The Bears, who probably would have beaten any team in the nation on this night, reined punches on the Red Raiders from the opening tap, and Tech did not respond. Or rather, they responded in exactly the wrong way.
Instead of settling down, maintaining their composure, running their sets, and taking good shots, the Red Raiders got ever more rattled. Whoever brought the ball across midcourt was going to shoot because he was not about to pass. There were silly turnovers galore, and dead-end drives into the paint predestined to doom.
Then, to make matters even more miserable, the team gave up. Trailing 33-14 with 6:30 remaining in the first half, and desperately needing a good possession, Josh Gray trotted the ball across midcourt and hurled up a hopeless, I-don't-give-a-rip three-pointer, only seconds into the shot clock. It was clear at that point that the team had packed it in and would not make a run at the Bears.
The Red Raiders get another opportunity to show some maturity and heart and toughness in the face of adversity when Kansas comes to town this Saturday. If they don't grow up a bit between now and then, the results will be every bit as ugly.
Shot Selection and Defense: The Red Raiders did nothing well against the Bears. And no individual player had a decent game. Therefore, one can point the finger in any direction and correctly single out blame. But what most thoroughly cooked Tech's goose in this one were atrocious shot selection and rotten defense.
It's not overstating matters to note that Tech's offense was reduced to lobbing desperation three pointers with little attempt made to look for something better. A full 41 percent of Tech's shots came from beyond the arc. And when you are not a shooting team to begin with, that spells doom. Parenthetically, the Red Raiders connected on a whopping 21 percent of their three point attempts.
Defensively, there just wasn't much effort. Once Baylor broke Tech's will late in the first half, the game became a parade of dunks for the visitors. Bears were uncontested and unmolested in the lane, or right under the hoop. It was risible. And that explains why Baylor hit 54 percent of their field goal attempts. Heck, how could they miss?
Gray Must Get It Together: If there's a mouthier more obnoxious basketball player in America than Baylor guard A. J. Walton, I haven't seen him. He has the most insufferable court presence I've seen in many a year. It's easy to see how he could get under one's skin. That said, if Walton does get to you, then he's won. In this respect, Walton, a senior, defeated Josh Gray, a freshman.
Walton taunted Gray every time Gray had the ball, and Gray responded to the smack by forcing up a variety of terrible and rushed shots. Chris Walker must curtail Gray's street ball mentality and convince him to play within the system, because you can bet other players, seeing Walton's success, will copy his antics.