Flatter than a Tabletop: The Red Raiders, with their minds apparently on New Year's Eve parties rather than the job at hand, were the very definition of lethargic in the early going against Florida A&M. The visitors jumped out to a 12-4 lead with 12:09 remaining in the first half. Indeed, with 11:36 to play, the Red Raiders had more turnovers (8) than points (7). The Rattlers were hustling, beating Tech to loose balls, and playing with much more passion than the Red Raiders.
Chris Walker knew it. He inserted rarely used reserve Clark Lammert in an attempt to generate a spark. When he put Toddrick Gotcher in the game, he exhorted him, "Energy! Give me energy!"
Eventually, Tech came around and took a 70-56 victory, but the joking around stops here. The Red Raiders don't have a talent advantage over any Big 12 team that will allow them to even stay close if they play like they don't care. From now on, Tech must come out of the tunnel with a mad-on if they are to have any chance at all.
Anatomy of a Turnaround: After trailing by eight points, the Red Raiders closed the first half with a furious rush and led 37-24 going into the break. What happened?
First, Tech slowly ratcheted up the defensive intensity. Kader Tapsoba, who is my MVP for this game, blocked two FAMU shots and altered a few others. Toddrick Gotcher provided a shot in the arm on both ends of the court. And the Red Raiders gathered several steals, finishing with nine in the first half.
Second, Tech aggressively took the ball to the hoop, drew fouls, and hit their free throws. The Red Raiders shot 16 freebies in the first half and connected on 14 of them. For the game Tech hit 82 percent from the charity stripe.
And third, Dusty Hannahs smoked a pair of three point shots. It is amazing what just a couple of three pointers can do in a close game in which you are also playing good defense.
Wild Inconsistency: The primary problem Chris Walker has with this team is inconsistency. Game in, game out, he has no players he can rely on to play well. Not even Jaye Crockett, who played poorly as a first-time starter against Alabama, and had another bad game today against the Rattlers.
Heck, there is radical inconsistency within the game itself, and even within halves of basketball. Trency Jackson had a superb first half against Florida A&M with eight points on two-of-two shooting, one-of-one from three point country, and three-of-four from the free throw line, to go along with one steal and no turnovers. But Jackson returned to bad form in the second with only two points and three turnovers.
This is surely a maddening team to coach, and each player must be watched like a hawk to determine who has come to play and who doesn't have their game.
Williams Out: Jamal Williams did not suit out for the game, although he was with the team on the floor and wearing warm-ups. He didn't seem to be injured, so I'm not sure why he did not play.
Separated at Birth: Rattler forward Trey Kellum is a younger model of actor Jihmi Kennedy, who played Jupitar Sharts in the 1989 film, Glory. Great movie, by the way.
Name of the Year Nomination: FAMU big man McWisdom Badejo has to be the frontrunner for Name of the Year by a Texas Tech opponent. I believe I'll trip on down to the Golden Arches for a Super-size McHumor and a double-meat McCourage with no tomatoes.