Hoops Notebook: Baby Steps

The Red Raiders showed improvement over the final stretch of the regular season.

Nobody is happy with losses, and few people will admit to moral victories, but the reality is that the Red Raiders improved over the final couple of weeks of the season. Tech got only one win in this period—the 63-62 thriller over Oklahoma State—but was much more competitive.

And here is the primary indicator. In Tech’s first 11 Big 12 losses, the average margin of defeat was 23 points. In their final four losses, that margin shrank to seven.

And it’s not as if the Red Raiders played patsies down the stretch either. Two of Tech’s losses were to Baylor (the No. 3 team in my Big 12 power rankings), and one was in overtime to Oklahoma, the No. 2 team in the rankings.

It sure took a long time, but this team finally began to gel and improve as the season concluded. If this trend continues next season—and there’s no reason it shouldn’t—look for the Red Raiders to be one of the nation’s most improved teams in 2015-16.

Where Is He Now? Of the players who transferred following Billy Clyde Gillispie’s farcical, one-year Texas Tech tenure, wing player Terran Pettaway from Galveston is the one--along with possibly Josh Gray--serious loss. Pettaway, who is completing his junior year for the Tim Miles-coached Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-16, 5-12), may be the best player on the NU roster.

Pettaway, who leads Nebraska in scoring with 18 points per game, is more of a gunner than a shooter as evidenced by his shooting 40-percent from the floor, 31 percent from 3-point range, and 69 percent from the line. Pettaway also averages 35 minutes per game, and five rebounds per contest, in addition to leading the Cornhuskers in blocked shots with 27. He also has 33 steals on the season to go along with 84 assists and 99 turnovers.

Statistical Roundup: In a season as rough as the current one, it is no surprise that Texas Tech’s statistical profile, from a national perspective, looks pretty sad. Among the more important numbers are following.

The Red Raiders are No. 315 nationally (out of 345 teams) in both shooting percentage (40 percent) and free throw shooting percentage (65 percent). Tech is No. 308 in scoring (61 points per game), No. 302 in assists-to-turnovers ratio, No. 288 in turnovers per game (14), No. 277 in 3-point shooting percentage (32 percent), and No. 253 in turnover margin (-1.1).

But Tech has done some things well, too. The Red Raiders are No. 27 in free throw attempts (732), No. 93 in blocks per game (4.1), No. 130 in fewest fouls committed (130), and No. 138 in rebound margin (+1.4).

Final Big 12 Power Rankings:
1. Kansas (24-7, 13-5)
2. Oklahoma (12-6, 21-9)
3. Baylor (23-8, 11-7)
4. Iowa State (22-8, 12-6)
5. West Virginia (23-8, 11-7)
6. Oklahoma State (18-12, 8-10)
7. Texas (19-12, 8-10)
8. Kansas State (15-16, 8-10)
9. TCU (17-14, 4-14)
10. Texas Tech (13-18, 3-15)

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