Texas Tech Coming In On a High Note
"They beat a quality opponent," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "And they've done a good job. You watch them, and they've bought in. They had some adversity, obviously they had to deal with. But they dealt with it, and you've got to really be impressed with the way they've hung in their together."
One of the interesting facets of the Tech team is how drastically the Red Raiders have altered their tempo over the course of the season. Tech played Iowa State at a significantly slower tempo than the Cyclones are used to, and the Red Raiders held the ball against Kansas to keep the margin within two points at halftime.
But Barnes said some of that slowdown comes naturally.
"I think that happens some too when you get into conference play because every possession becomes a little bit longer because teams get better," Barnes said. "By the time you get into conference play, teams that broke down early in possessions, they get better, they make you work harder to get looks.
"I think all coaches really want to play fast and get out and score as much as they can," Barnes said. "But it's hard as the year goes on because everybody continues to improve."
Replacing Jonathan Holmes
Meanwhile, the Longhorns limp in without two of their starters, in the suspended Myck Kabongo and the recently injured Holmes.
"The tough part about it was I felt John was really starting to hit his stride," Barnes said. "I feel for him and his teammates feel for him.
"I think that means that other guys are going to have to do more," Barnes said. "Things happen and that's why you have a team. It gives someone else [a chance]."
Barnes mentioned that Ioannis Papapetrou could log more minutes at the four, and that the team would have to rely more on centers Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh. But the best options might be Jaylen Bond and Connor Lammert. Bond's timing in recovering from his own injury woes couldn't be any better, with the burly power forward saying that he was finally near 100 percent.
"At first it was disappointing," Bond said. "I got down on myself. But you know, my teammates were encouraging me, just when I get back just to play hard and I'll get back in the flow of things. That's what I'm trying to do right now."
While Bond will be counted on to ease the rebounding burden — he was one of the league's top returning rebounders by rebound rate before his injury — he said that Lammert would be needed to provide more interior scoring pop.
"Connor, he's a real good scorer inside and outside," Bond said. "He's very dynamic to our team as well, because he can score inside and outside.
"I think he has the ability to score on anybody," Bond said.
Familiar Face for Lammert
Could one of those "anybodies" be a familiar face? Connor's older brother Clark Lammert is a sophomore for the Red Raiders. The best chance Connor would have to see his brother would be a blowout, as Clark averages a Red Raider-low 3.8 minutes per appearance, but Connor talked about the opportunity to play against his sibling.
"It's really exciting," Connor said. "I've been looking forward to it for a very long time, me and my family have. I'm going to treat it like just any normal game. But in the back of my mind, he's going to be on the other side of the court. I've just got to treat him like another player. After the game, he's my brother. But on the court, we're competitors."