Snakebit Red Raiders Drop Another

Texas Tech found itself down big again early, mounted a second-half comeback and once again fell short as Kansas State defeated the Red Raiders 66-58. Tech has dropped three straight after winning two in a row.

The basketball gods are harsh, indeed. In a refrain that is as repetitive as it is painful, the Texas Tech Red Raiders dug themselves a deep hole, fought like gangbusters to climb out, only to have the dirt flung back into their faces as the final buzzer sounded.

After falling 14 points behind Kansas State in oppressive Bramlage Coliseum, Tech clawed to within one point with 7:16 to play. All the Red Raiders needed to pull off a major upset was one or two breaks down the stretch. A shot that goes down instead of rolling out. A loose ball that finds the hands of a Red Raider rather than a Wildcat. A basket instead of a turnover.

But the hoops gods were having none of it.

Tech could not wrest the lead from KSU and faltered down the stretch. Silly turnovers, forced shots, and missed free throws did the Red Raiders in. And the ball just didn't bounce their way.

For all the world, though, in the first half it looked like Tech was en route to a rout rather than a nail-biter that would be closer than the final score of 66-58 indicated. The Red Raiders put up a measly 20 points in the opening stanza and trailed 32-20. In the middle of the half Tech went seven and a half minutes without scoring. Tech shot 29 percent from the floor and looked like a team on the ropes.

Full credit to Kansas State for Tech's offensive woes in the opening half. The Wildcats were extremely well prepared. They knew the tendencies of Tech players and countered them effectively. They knew where Tech cutters were headed and beat them to the spot. They pressured the Red Raider guards far out onto the court and thoroughly disrupted Tech's offense. And on those occasions when Red Raiders got open looks, they missed them more often than not.

Tech was much better in the second half. They rekindled the offensive aggression they showed in the opening few minutes of the game, and basically maintained it for the duration. Offensive sets were predicated upon finding players diving into the paint from the wings.

As this manoeuver began to pay dividends, particularly for Jaye Crockett, Dusty Hannahs also heated up. He hit a layup to close the first half and carried that momentum into the second. Hannahs, who is developing a nice all-around offensive game, scored 12 points in the second stanza, including seven in a one-minute-and-49-second span to help the Red Raiders keep it close.

Backup point guard Randy Onwuasor also made several key plays in the second half, but committed a costly turnover and missed crucial free throws.

Jordan Tolbert picked a bad time to go south. Far south. For the first time in his Tech career, he failed to score in a game in which he played. Tolbert's head was never in this one, as he got lost on defense early on, took poor shots and made no positive contributions.

The Red Raiders once again showed tremendous mental toughness, but didn't play with enough poise and intelligence when the game got tight. If they can rectify those weaknesses, this team will close with a rush. If.

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