*Ultimately, what got Texas Tech the 67-57 win over Texas was consistency. As much as any time this season, the Red Raiders played quality basketball from the opening tap to the final buzzer. It wasn’t flashy. It wasn’t spectacular. But it was a win, and an important one at that.
*Aside from the Big 12 standings, and the obvious postseason implications, Texas Tech’s win was valuable from the standpoint of pecking order in the state of Texas. The Longhorns are down this season. They’re 10-20. They may finish in the Big 12 cellar. They are beatable. But Texas being Texas, they have plenty of talent, and in Shaka Smart, a coach with a pedigree. And Texas being Texas, their program always has a certain amount of prestige. When you beat Texas, no matter the circumstances, it is a notable accomplishment.
In taking care of business at home against UT, and frankly dominating the final two thirds of the game, Texas Tech serves notice in the state of Texas that they don’t take a back seat to any Lone Star program. This is important for recruiting purposes.
This win will also make the air surrounding Tech’s program much more pleasant to breath. Wins feel good. Especially wins against Texas. Had the Red Raiders lost at home, on the other hand, to a Texas club that has struggled badly this season, there would have been plenty of angry fans questioning the program’s direction. If you can’t beat Texas in Lubbock this season, when will you be able to? Fortunately, Chris Beard doesn’t have to answer that question. And he’s got another good ticket in his hand of cards.
*You don’t want to go negative after a very good win on Senior Night, but Zach Smith, yet again, just wasn’t much of a factor. It’s now been about four straight games in which Smith does not seem to be himself. He’s normally a dynamic, athletic freak who makes plays on both ends of the court and in transition, but lately he’s been not a whole lot more than a warm body. Is it an undisclosed injury? A lingering illness? Fatigue from the grind of a long and tortuous season? Your guess is as good as mine, but the Red Raiders will need all hands, including Smith’s, on deck to beat Kansas State in Manhattan on their Senior Night.
*Matthew Temple played 12 minutes tonight, 10 more than his average, and it wasn’t just because he is a senior. The fact is that Temple’s large frame was needed to battle inside with Bevo’s beef. The only time in this game that the Longhorns gave Tech any trouble was the first several minutes when the Red Raiders couldn’t do anything with Shaquille Cleare. Temple’s presence solidified Tech’s interior defense, and from that point on it was the home team’s game to win or lose.
*Sometimes the coach just needs to let the players play. Case in point was in the final two or three minutes of this game when the Red Raiders had a commanding lead, but weren’t entirely out of the woods. On two or three straight possessions Beard ordered his players to slow it down and burn clock. The result was poor shots, turnovers and a mini UT run. After that bad patch Beard loosened the reins somewhat and guys like the hard-charging Justin Gray took matters into their own hands and polished off the Horns. This was a “teachable moment” for the coach.
*Texas’ Diaper Dandy, Jarrett Allen certainly has a great deal of pure talent, and for that reason will likely declare for the NBA draft and be selected in the first round. If I’m a scout, however, I am a bit concerned with Allen’s apparent lack of fire and passion. A player with Allen’s skills has the ability to take over most games. However, such dominance doesn’t simply happen. The player has to will himself, through effort and competitive drive, to be the big cat who slashes the opponent to ribbons. I’m not seeing that from Allen. Perhaps it is something he will learn as he matures. But if I’m an NBA team seeking an immediate bang from my first-round selection, I am looking elsewhere than Austin, Texas.