Crockett's Crazy Game: Jaye Crockett was both feast and famine for the Red Raiders in their final non-conference home game. He came within an eyelash of recording a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Crockett also hit on four of five free throws, in addition to blocking three shots.
On the downside, however, Crockett committed four personal fouls and a mind-bending eight turnovers. The Clovis, New Mexico product was responsible for 38 percent of Tech's abysmal 21 turnovers, and a great many of them resulted from lazy passes and poor awareness of defensive presence.
El Grande, Numero Dos: As I expected, Billy Gillispie went with a big starting lineup for the second straight game. The Red Raiders started three front line players in Jordan Tolbert, Robert Lewandowski and Terran Petteway to go along with guards Javarez Willis and Ty Nurse. We could see something similar against Oklahoma State, although I'd expect DeShon Minnis or Jaye Crockett to start for Petteway who was ineffective against Southeast Louisiana.
Firing Blanks: Starters Petteway, Nurse and Willis were a combined 0-7 shooting in the first half. They finished the game five of 17 from the field.
Cold and Hot: For the second straight game, the Red Raiders were icy cold from the charity stripe in the first half and blazing hot in the second. Against the Lions, Tech connected on only seven of 12 free throws in the first half, but hit 77 percent of their freebies in the second. Against Bakersfield the disparity was even starker as the Red Raiders shot 50/50 from the free thrown line in the first half but 86 percent in the second.
Nashing My Teeth: Until Jaron Nash improves his free throw shooting to a level you'd expect from a D-1 player he will be confined strictly to situational minutes on defense. After 12 games Nash is connecting on 30 percent of his free throws, while, amazingly enough, shooting 60 percent from the floor. Nash's free throw percentage is 20 percent worse than DeShon Minnis' 50 percent, which is second worst on the team. But, with the exception of Clark Lammert, his field goal shooting percentage is second best on the squad. The only other Red Raider I can think of who shot this poorly from the free throw line was Wes Lowe in the mid-eighties.
Ball Security MUST Improve: After 12 games, an astounding seven Red Raiders average one or more turnovers per minute played. They are Jordan Tolbert, DeShon Minnis, Robert Lewandowski, Terran Petteway, Jaye Crockett, Jaron Nash and Javarez Willis.
The Red Raiders are averaging 17 turnovers per game, and that already terrible number will only get worse when they begin facing Big 12 defenses. And Tech simply does not have enough offensive firepower to survive in the Big 12 if they continue to turn the ball over at that rate.
Success in Tolbert's Absence: Jordan Tolbert finally came back to earth. Plagued by foul trouble, he played only 24 minutes and scored a modest 11 points while committing three turnovers and going one of four from the free throw line.
The encouraging thing was how well the Red Raiders played with Tolbert on the bench. Tolbert went to the bench after committing his third foul with 18:26 remaining in the game. At that point the Red Raiders were ahead by six points. When Tolbert returned several minutes later, Tech had pushed the lead to 10. Soon thereafter, Tolbert committed his fourth and returned to the bench (11:01 remaining) with Tech maintaining a 12-point cushion. When Tolbert returned at the 5:39 mark the Red Raiders were still ahead by 10 points.
Interestingly, coach Gillispie pulled Tolbert from the game for the final 4:30 because of a couple of ugly turnovers, and played Crockett in his stead. Gillispie sent a potent message to the talented freshman, I suspect.