*Depending upon how you look at it, Texas Tech was either a resilient team that consistently beat back Oklahoma runs, or a team that never could deliver a true knockout blow in their 77-69 win over the Sooners. There’s doubtless some truth in both views.
The Red Raiders wobbled OU pretty badly in the first half as they leaked out to a 10-point lead with 6:22 remaining in the first half, but the Sooners cut that lead in half late in the half, before settling for a seven-point deficit at the intermission.
In the second half Tech actually trailed by two points with 13:22 remaining in the game, before rallying to an eight-point lead, which ultimately proved to be the final spread.
It was a tough, competitive, hard-fought game in which the Sooners never really managed to get over the hump, and in which the Red Raiders were never really safe. Still, Tech led for almost 32 minutes of the game, which gives some indication that the Red Raiders were essentially in charge and the better team on this night. But nothing comes easy for Chris Beard’s team. All conference wins are death-struggles. Indeed, the eight-point margin of victory was Tech’s largest in a Big 12 game.
*During this game it appeared to me that the Red Raiders were taking shots earlier in their sets than they usually do, and that Beard was not insisting on passing three or four times to the extent he had in the past. In the postgame presser, however, he said that he hadn’t given the team the message that shooting earlier was okay, but rather stated that certain specific players—presumably the “green-light” guys—were simply getting good looks early and took the shots as is their prerogative.
*I thought the Red Raiders began this game with excellent energy, and sustained their effort rather well. Tech players were really soaring through the ether, and that’s a sign of high energy.
*As I expected, Niem Stevenson started for Devon Thomas in this game, and although he had a relatively quiet game statistically, on the whole played well. He grabbed seven rebounds, had three assists to one turnover, and knocked down a couple of critical 3-balls in the second half. Stevenson also aided the defense quite a bit, as his length helped shut down the gaps and lanes that Sooner guards drove so effectively against the Red Raiders in Norman. Now having said that, credit also goes to Thomas who played very solid on-the-ball defense against Jordan Woodard when he was on the court.
*Keenan Evans probably doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves from media and fans. He is such a smooth, controlled and effortless player, that sometimes one just doesn’t realize how good he is. Specifically, he has really developed and diversified his offensive game.
Playing at the Power Seven level of basketball, every team must have two or three players who can manufacture their own shot if it is going to be an NCAA tourney club. Evans has certainly become one of those guys. He has refined his step-back and fade-away jumpers to an art form, and the difficulty-level of many of those shots is very high indeed. Because of his ability to score in myriad, difficult ways, I think he has a real shot at playing for big money some day. Also let it be noted that after turning the ball over five times against Texas, he had zero turnovers and three assists against the Sooners. That’s a nice bounce-back game.