Baylor Tops Texas Tech, 59-49

Texas Tech dropped its fifth consecutive contest Saturday with a 59-49 defeat to Baylor in Waco. The starters were horrible for the most part, but when coach Tubby Smith benched them for several younger players, the Red Raiders made a run, and possibly showed a glimpse of what the future of Texas Tech basketball could be.

With at least four
games—including the Baylor tilt—remaining on the schedule, Tubby Smith apparently decided he'd seen enough of 2013-14 and wanted to look ahead to 2014-15.

The result was another loss, 59-49, Tech's fifth straight, but at least Smith is sneaking a peek at next season.

Smith sat Jaye Crockett, who had a miserable first half, and Jordan Tolbert, who wasn't much better, in favor of freshmen Aaron Ross and Alex Foster. Robert Turner, who rebounded strongly from a terrible outing against Kansas State, sophomore Toddrick Gotcher, and freshman Randy Onwuasor also played big minutes in the second half. Incoming recruits notwithstanding, that quintet figures to bulk large in Smith's plans for next year.

And the prognosis emerging from Smith's slightly premature youth movement wasn't altogether discouraging. At the halftime break Tech (13-16, 5-11) trailed 33-22 in what was as dismal a half of offensive basketball as the Red Raiders have displayed in some time. In the second, with the youngsters on the court almost exclusively, Tech actually shaved a point off of Baylor's ultimate advantage and scored five more points than they did in the opening stanza.

That's not too bad considering that the kids were playing before a road crowd of 8,800 and against a team stocked with serious talent. At times, Tech's youngsters actually outplayed the Bears (19-10, 7-9). They also showed some resiliency.

With a three-point shot by Royce O'Neal at the 16:13 mark, the Bears jetted to a 16-point advantage, and the hapless, errant and turnover-prone Red Raiders looked to be in swan dive mode. But Tech still had some fight left.

Slowly and methodically, the Red Raiders chipped away at Baylor's lead. Over the next 13 minutes Tech put together an 18-7 run, that, with a Robert Turner layup made the score 50-45, Baylor, with 3:13 showing on the clock. That layup accounted for the only Tech points in the run that were not scored by Gotcher or Ross.

Following the Turner hoop, Ross fouled Kenny Chery who drained two freebies to give Baylor a seven-point advantage. Ross responded by hitting a jumper after an assist from Gotcher and the lead was back to five with 2:21 remaining. Onwuasor snagged the defensive board off of an Isaiah Austin (0-10 shooting, four points in two games against Tech) miss, but Gotcher missed an ill-advised jumper early in the clock with 1:39 remaining and that was the end of the Red Raider threat. The Bears drained seven of eight free throws down the stretch and won by 10 in a game that was closer than the final score indicates.

Ultimately, Tech lost this game because of numerous silly turnovers in the first half, an inability to even remotely control the defensive glass, and simply horrid free throw shooting.

The Red Raiders turned the ball over eight times in the first half to a team that came into the game forcing only 10 turnovers per contest. These turnovers, not to mention multiple missed layups, explain Tech's meager 22 first-half point total.

Baylor outrebounded Tech by 16. The Bears' 21 offensive rebounds was just shy of Tech' total rebounding number of 24. Alex Foster's five rebounds led Tech in that category.

The Red Raiders also shot 41 percent from the free throw line. That was seven percentage points worse than the team shot from the floor. Suffice it to say that there is no excuse for a Big 12 basketball team hitting only seven of 17 free throw attempts. Tech's free throw shooting percentage has been slowly declining and, with the performance against Baylor, it is no longer possible to say that the Red Raiders are a good free throw shooting team.

But there is some reason for good cheer. Tech's youngsters were a bright spot. And with an infusion of talent from the next recruiting class, happy days might be just around the corner.

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