Wins don't come easy for the Texas Tech men's basketball team. But they are coming, and that's the main thing.
Much as with Tech's gritty victory over Texas Southern on Monday, the Red Raiders were forced to continually fend off a team that refused to go gently into that good night on Thursday. Playing without point guard and third leading scorer Jake Bittle, the Jackrabbits nonetheless kept Tech within striking range and forced the Red Raiders to work a full 40 minutes for the win. Although Tech never trailed, their biggest lead was only 16 points, and that came with 1:30 to play.
Nevertheless, the Red Raiders managed to repulse every Jackrabbit effort to gain control of the game, and they did so thanks to a couple of unlikely plays. Starting guards Robert Turner and Dusty Hannahs were a combined two of 13 from the field, but oh how important those two shots were.
First, after SDSU managed to whittle down a 14-point Red Raider lead to only six with 5:50 to play on a Brayden Carlson three-pointer, Hannahs responded with a three-pointer of his own on Tech's next possession to blunt the Jackrabbit rally.
Then, with the visitors still hanging around, Turner picked the pocket of an SDSU guard and sent home a jam to give the Red Raiders a 14-point bulge with 2:13 to play. That was the final and fatal dagger.
Dishes and Denies: As is his wont, Dejan Kravic started the game fast on the offensive end and then largely disappeared. Kravic scored six of Tech's first eight points, but was not heard from again until 16:30 remaining in the game when he nailed a jumper.
Part of the reason Kravic vanished is because Kader Tapsoba (the emphasis is on the first syllable, by the way) played one heck of a game, perhaps his best as a Red Raider. After swatting four shots against Texas Southern, he rejected three more against SDSU, converted a reverse layup and slammed home a dunk on a fast break, as well as recording a steal. Kader is more than just a tall guy with long arms. Rather, he is developing a knack for helping against penetration and timing his blocks. There's a little Dikembe Mutombo to his game.
For the second straight game, the Red Raiders held their turnovers to single digits. Tech committed only five against Texas Southern, and a mere nine against SDSU. This goes a long way toward shoring up offensive efficiency on nights when you shoot poorly as Tech did against the Jackrabbits (44 percent from the floor).
The Red Raiders did, however, finally break their cold spell from the line. Tech came into the game shooting only 59 percent from the stripe, but knocked down 13 of 15 against SDSU. Hannahs was a big nine for nine.
Seemingly, Tech could get any shot it wanted in the first half, yet in the second struggled badly to find open looks.
Given that the Red Raiders enjoyed a quickness advantage over the Jackrabbits, it was somewhat surprising that they pressed SDSU very little.
Tubby Smith showed a trapping matchup zone on a possession late in the game. That was probably a first on the season.
Luke Adams did not play for the second straight game, and freshman forward Alex Foster has seen his minutes diminish as well.
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