*The trend of Texas Tech being a better second half- than first half-team continued in the 91-58 win over Idaho State, but in this one Tech at least didn’t have to climb out of a double-digit hole.
Going into this game the Red Raiders outscored their opponents by an average of two points in first halves, and by 16 points in second halves. Against the Bengals Tech was up 40-29 at the halftime break, and outscored the visitors 51-29 in the second half.
In the postgame presser Idaho State head coach Bill Evans offered, unsolicited, that Texas Tech’s physical toughness wears teams down in the second half. Evans saw this in Cancun in Tech’s games with Auburn and Utah State, and experienced it in the loss today.
According to Tech boss Chris Beard, if the Red Raiders get to the point where they’re playing both halves at the same high level, they will be competitive in the Big 12.
*Forward Aaron Ross missed his second straight game with a leg injury of some sort, but the decision to sit him was precautionary more than anything else. His return will be decided on a day-to-day basis.
*Idaho State is primarily a zone defense team, and that is what they opened up with against the Red Raiders. But Tech appeared very comfortable playing against that zone. Both interior and perimeter passing was excellent, and passers were finding open players for good shots. In rather short order ISU got out of that zone and began playing quite a bit of man defense against the Red Raiders.
*One play Tech used effectively against ISU was “41 cut.” In this set, two players were stationed a few feet beyond the top of the key. One of those players, after passing to the other, ran an L-shaped cut into the center of the zone, and one of the front-court players rotated out to replace the player who ran the L-cut. That cutting player became a target in the heart of the zone. If open, he could receive a pass and shoot a turn-around jumper, or turn and look for a baseline cutter.
*Niem Stevenson, returning from a throat illness, certainly had his best game as a Red Raider. He scored 12 points on four-of-four shooting, and had two rebounds and a steal.
Stevenson, as Beard stated in the press conference, is a talented one-on-one player. Perhaps more than any player on the roster, he has the ability to manufacture points. And that quality can be very valuable when points are hard to come by within sets, or when Tech needs a bucket to win a game in the waning moments.
*Devon Thomas, who started his second straight game, is becoming a real vocal leader for the Red Raiders. Most of the players who get big minutes are silent types. Thomas, however, will make his feelings, both positive and negative, known to his teammates. And that’s a good thing. Every team needs at least one guy who will take charge.
*On the whole, Texas Tech’s defense was pretty solid against the Bengals. The Red Raiders turned ISU over 17 times while allowing only four assists en route to holding them to 58 points, the Bengals’ second lowest scoring total of the season. However, Idaho State did connect on 48 percent of their 3-pointers, and that’s a bad number for the Red Raiders. Tech occasionally had trouble locating shooters on the fast break, which certainly contributed to that high shooting percentage. This is something Beard will doubtless work on with his players in the coming days.