Tech Can't Break Through Against ISU

Texas Tech made a huge second-half comeback, but in the end undefeated Iowa State proved to be too much as the No. 12 Cyclones won 73-62 Saturday at United Spirit Arena in both teams' Big 12 opener.

With 47 seconds left in the first half, the Texas Tech Red Raiders were staring at a Himalayan-sized mountain. Iowa State's Matt Thomas had just knocked down a three-pointer to give the 13th-ranked Cyclones a 17-point advantage over a fragile Tech team. The climb facing the Red Raiders seemed quite hopeless.

But Tech got the final bucket of the first half on a Jordan Tolbert dunk and then charged toward the summit in the second half. And when Jaye Crockett swished home a trey from the top of the arc to tie the score at 50 with 12:32 remaining in the game, the Red Raiders had their fingertips locked on the final precipice.

Alas, just when it looked like Tech might be planting a pennant on a huge upset victory, they were buried by an avalanche. The Red Raiders went through a five-minute scoring drought , and by the time Dusty Hannahs broke it with a layup, Iowa State had rebuilt their lead to eight points. Then, over the final 7:45 of the game, Tech was never able to mount another serious charge and the visitors coasted to a 73-62 conference-opening victory.

The Red Raiders did several things well enough to win this one. They outrebounded Iowa State by three. They outshot them 43 to 42 percent. Tech also shot 30 percent from three-point range while holding ISU to 26 percent from that distance.

But the Red Raiders also dealt with a couple of huge liabilities. The Tech defense forced the Cyclones into a mere five turnovers (the Red Raiders turned it over 13 times), and sent Iowa State to the free throw line 29 times while getting there only eight times themselves.

Much of this game hinged upon three-point shooting. In the first half, which Iowa State thoroughly dominated, the Cyclones connected on 44 percent of their three-point attempts, while Tech was only 25 percent from that distance. Then, in the first half of the second half, when the Red Raiders made their run, Tech hit four straight treys. But down the stretch, when the game was decided, the Red Raiders went 0-for-7 from downtown, and that was what sealed Tech's fate.

Much of Tech's offensive success—when it came—against the Cyclones was catalyzed by point guard dribble penetration. Forget Robert Turner's 0-for-6 shooting; when he got into the paint the Red Raider offense flowed much better and was much more difficult to defend. Unfortunately, Turner played only 24 minutes because of foul problems, and backup Randy Onwausor was unequal to the task of running Tech's offense against the sticky Iowa State defense.

When the Red Raiders are playing tough defense—which they usually do—and when Turner is performing like a true, pass-first point guard, Tech can compete with just about any team in the Big 12, at least at home. When either of these ingredients are absent, the Red Raiders will struggle mightily.

Tech's next opportunity for a conference win comes Monday in the United Spirit Arena when the West Virginia Mountaineers pay a visit. Tipoff is s

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