*Some readers may recall me saying this before, but I’ll say it once again: were I an NBA General Manager for an expansion team, the very first player I would acquire would be a stellar defensive point guard who is capable of damaging the opposition’s offense by locking up its point guard.
In Shadell Millinghaus, Chris Beard may have such a player. Now overall, Texas Tech’s defensive effort in the 77-76 overtime upset of No. 7 West Virginia, was a bit spotty. It was mostly good, but there were breakdowns as well. But to the extent the Red Raider defense did play well, a huge part of this was Millinghaus’ on-the-ball defense against exceptional Mountaineer point guard Jevan Carter.
Millinghaus, Devon Thomas, and Keenan Evans all played some against Carter in the first half, but it the second, it was all Millinghaus with the exception of one possession defended by Thomas in which Carter hit a fade-away jumper in the lane. In that second half Carter hit only one of the six shots he took against Millinghaus.
For the remainder of the season Millinghaus will prove to be an outstanding asset to Chris Beard’s team as long as he isn’t a liability on the other end of the court by taking bad shots or committing turnovers. He’s fleet and quick enough to defend smaller point guards, and big and physical enough to guard larger guards. Then there’s the determination. Millinghaus had a maniacal look on his face—and that’s a compliment—throughout this game that radiated intensity. I hope to see that look on a regular basis.
*What the victory over West Virginia tells me is that this team is very much in the same echelon as last year’s Red Raider squad, which went to the NCAA tournament. Now over the course of the season this team may elevate and be better than last year’s unit, or it may plateau and fall short of the 2015-16 outfit. That remains to be seen. However, I am confident in stating that very few teams will come into Lubbock and beat this bunch. There aren’t many teams in America better than West Virginia, and the Mountaineers played a good game, but still couldn’t come away with the W. This bodes well for Tech.
*Anthony Livingston will only play one season in scarlet and black, but he has the potential to leave here a legend. He beat a very good Rice team by calmly draining three straight free throws in the waning moments, and tonight laid out the Mountaineers by hitting a contested 3-ball from deep in the corner. He may have to change his nickname from Big Ant to Captain Icewater.
*Niem Stevenson certainly had himself a game against the Mountaineers. He came off the bench to score 13 points, lead the team with eight rebounds, dish out four assists and block a shot. The Red Raiders absolutely had to have this given that Justin Gray and Keenan Evans were in foul trouble much of the game and ultimately fouled out.
*And last but certainly not least, Texas Tech played exceptionally well against West Virginia’s formidable pressure defense. The Mountaineers entered the game forcing an average of 26 turnovers per game, but only pried 13 away from the Red Raiders in an overtime game. WVU had forced considerably more turnovers than they had allowed baskets before coming to Lubbock. Texas Tech connected on 25 shots while turning it over only those 13 times. Every team that West Virginia faces on its remaining schedule would take those sorts of numbers and run with them like they’d stolen them.