When Texas Tech has lost this season, and lost badly, there has been a very elementary formula.
The Red Raiders (14-18) have turned the ball over and missed easy shots in the first half, which produced an offensive drought that resulted in an almost insurmountable deficit.
Such was exactly the case in Tech's 80-62 loss to Oklahoma State (21-11) in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament.
It all began well enough for the Red Raiders who sprinted out to an early 8-0 advantage. At this point Tech was crisp and comfortable on offense and the Cowboys were missing shots.
All that changed irrevocably, however, when OSU boss Travis Ford went to a variety of traps and presses. The Red Raiders played like they had never seen pressure defense before, and there were no adjustments until halftime when the game, for all intents and purposes, was already over.
Oklahoma State's pressure produced two results, the combination of which proved fatal for Tech. First, it forced the Red Raiders to play hurry-up ball and to rush their shots. That explains, in part, why Tech missed close to 10 layups and bunnies in the first half.
Second, the pressure created a spate of turnovers. Fourteen, to be exact, in the first half alone. Pell-mell and harum-scarum point guard Robert Turner lived up to his surname, forking over the rock six times. Dejan Kravic, who had an otherwise excellent game with 18 points and 12 rebounds, coughed up the orange four times.
The final 5:38 of the first half was particularly horrendous. Playing without Jaye Crockett, who had injured his knee, the Red Raiders turned the ball over seven times in their final 11 possessions of the half. OSU's Appalachian 14-point advantage ballooned to a Himalayan 23-point halftime bulge. Over the final 17:13 of the half, Tech scored 15 points and turned the ball over 13 times. That, in the proverbial nutshell, was your ballgame.
In the second half the Red Raiders turned the ball over only four times and scored 39 points. Consequently, they actually "won" that half, 39-34.
Tech's dismal first-half effort spoiled great senior performances by Kravic and Crockett, who paid by seeing their collegiate careers come to an end. Despite playing only 27 minutes because of the bruised knee, the Clovis Kid pumped in 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Beyond the play of Kravic and Crockett, there was little of value on the Tech side. Freshman Alex Foster showed a bit of life in the second half, and another freshman, Randy Onwuasor handed out three assists, but Kravic and Crockett needed far more support than that.
The support arrives next year.
Tech Stumbles to Blowout Loss
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