Tech Comes Up Short in Ames

The Red Raiders dropped a close one to Iowa State on the road Saturday as the Cyclones won 70-64. Texas Tech trailed by as many as 18, but fought back to take a lead late in the game before eventually losing.

Sometimes a team can play excellent basketball in all phases of the game, but if it fails to hit open shots, will still lose. That basically sums up what happened to Texas Tech (13-12 5-7) in Ames, Iowa as the frosty Red Raiders dropped a 70-64 decision to Iowa State (19-5 7-5).

Hilton Coliseum, which is almost as tough a venue as the Phog in Lawrence, was consistently deafening in this contest, but to their credit, the Red Raiders were poised and unperturbed. They bounced out to an early 16-11 lead on a Toddrick Gotcher jumper with 12:41 remaining in the opening half, and looked ready to reprise their surprising road victory over Oklahoma earlier in the week.

But as is so often the case with this team, an offensive drought put Tech squarely behind the eight-ball. Following a Jordan Tolbert jump shot that made the score 31-29 Iowa State with 2:33 left till halftime, the Red Raiders scored all of four points over the course of the next seven minutes and 58 seconds. Unsurprisingly, by the time Tech awoke from its coma, they trailed by 18 points.

An eighteen-point deficit to the No. 11 team in the country in Hilton Coliseum would be enough to bury all but a handful of basketball teams in America. Fortunately, the gritty, gutsy Red Raiders are in that handful.

Just when it looked like it was time for the organist to begin the funeral dirge, the Red Raiders arose and shouted, "Not so fast!"

The rally, one of many we have witnessed from this particular Tech team, began with a Jaye Crockett three-ball at the 14:23 mark. Then Gotcher dropped in five straight. Nine consecutive Tech free throws—six of them from Crockett—made the score 57-52 Iowa State with 9:12 still to play.

Two more Crockett layups brought the Red Raiders to within a single point with 7:54 remaining. Then amazingly, almost unbelievably, Tech actually retook the lead on yet another Crockett layup at the 3:22 juncture. The Red Raiders, who held the lethal ISU attack to just 10 points over this nearly six-minute stretch, had come all the way back, something Oklahoma was unable to do at home against Tech on Wednesday.

But alas and alack, Tech's shooting touch once again went icy and the Red Raiders mustered a paltry two points (on, you guessed it, a Crockett layup) over the final 3:22, and the Cyclones did just enough on offense to eke out the victory.

Tech shot a poor 37 percent from the floor, but that sad number doesn't actually describe just how awful the Red Raiders' shooting really was. Coaches can't complain too much when their players miss shots under intense duress, but such was not the case against Iowa State. On the contrary, Tech got uncontested perimeter looks at will in this game, on probably 75 percent of their possessions, but either bricked the Js, or passed them up, only to turn the ball over or blow a layup later in the possession. Tech's marksmanship was dreadful, and that's really all there was to it.

Quite a shame, too, because the terrible shooting cancelled a tremendous effort from Crockett who finished with a career-high 23 points to go along with 11 rebounds and two steals. It also nullified one heck of an effort on the glass. The Red Raiders pounded the Cyclones on the boards by 10, and held a team that scores 85 points per game to only 70. It should have amounted to a win, but should have doesn't matter a dang.

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