Photo By Steven Chapman

Yeager Shots: Texas Tech 75, Utah St. 51

Raider Power senior writer Joe Yeager breaks down Texas Tech's 75-51 victory over Utah State Wednesday night in Cancun.

*So now the Texas Tech Red Raiders are two-and-one. Two-and-one, that is, in games where they fell into double-digit holes in the first half. In the case of the Utah State Aggies, Tech fell behind 24-12 on a Jalen Moore layup with 9:36 remaining in the first half before storming back to win the game 75-51. Thus, the Red Raiders outscored the Aggies 63-27 over the final 30:24.

It may be nerve-wracking for Tech coaches and fans, but perhaps these early deficits really don’t mean all that much after all. Maybe it is inevitable that hot-shooting opponents will cool off, and that the bungling Red Raiders will get their act together. 

*Only five games into the season this Texas Tech team has already endured some fairly severe adversity. Center Norense Odiase was lost presumably for several weeks with a broken foot; guard Niem Stevenson was shelved for effectively three games (he played two minutes against Utah State) and counting with a throat ailment; forward Aaron Ross sat the Utat State game for reasons as yet unknown, and center Matthew Temple is still trying to recover from an injury that grievously limited his preseason practice time.

If Tech can weather this storm and get healthy mentally and physically, this might be a pretty salty group come January.

*Devon Thomas started this game in place of Shadell Millinghaus. Starting honors looked like a well-earned reward for Thomas who seems to get better every game. And he played himself a very solid game against the Aggies dishing out five assists and recording two steals while committing only one turnover. He also scored a pair of clutch buckets down the home stretch.

But credit Millinghaus, too. He lost his starting spot, and played two subpar games in a row, but never pouted, instead exhibiting a positive team attitude.

Millinghaus’ game will benefit from losing the tunnel vision he often has when attacking the hoop. In the first two games he converted many clutch buckets in traffic, but opposing coaches now have a book on him, and mob him when he gets to the hoop. Millinghaus can shatter the focus on him by finding open players when he’s double or triple teamed at the tin.

*Gio McLean shows signs of emerging. He knocked down a couple of 3-balls against Eastern Kentucky, and scored five important points against Utah State, which included a jumper with 14:20 remaining in the contest that gave Tech its first lead since early in the game. He also took a charge very late in the first half, which nullified a 3-pointer. Anthony Livingston then hit a trifecta of his own on Tech’s next possession and the Red Raiders went to the half trailing by only two points where a bit earlier they were down by a dozen.

*We had heard that Zach Smith had improved his jump shot in the off season, and that was certainly borne out against Utah State. When he wasn’t throwing down highlight reel dunks, he was calmly knocking down jumpers from 10 to 18 feet en route to his 21 points. Smith hit nine of 10 shots on the evening.

*The better the Red Raiders crashed the boards, the better they played. Early on, they were getting worked on the defensive glass, but slowly turned the tide and finished the game with a 12-rebound advantage. More important, perhaps, Tech limited Utah State to a modest six offensive rebounds.

*We would be remiss in not noting Anthony Livingston’s outstanding performance. Frankly, he had a bad shooting night in the loss to Auburn, but rebounded with a vengeance against the Aggies, recording 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting. He also grabbed a team high nine rebounds, and handed out an assist. It was Livingston’s clutch shooting at the end of the first half that got Tech back in it, and it was his sabers late in the game that finished off the Aggies once and for all.

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