The Texas Longhorns beat the Red Raiders of Texas Tech in a somewhat sloppy and disjointed game. Javan Felix led all scorers with 20 points and the Longhorns prevailed 69-59.
The Texas Longhorns got off to a sluggish start to open the game. Javan Felix scored the Longhorns' first eight points, but no one else was able to put the ball in the hole until Shaquille Cleare hit a layup nearly seven minutes into the game. Shaka Smart's team seemed to struggle early against Texas Tech's size. But the Longhorns closed the half strong, finding some chances in transition, and took a six point lead into the locker room.
In the second half, the Longhorns struggled to put the Red Raiders away. Texas was careless with the ball at times, turning it over 15 times in the game. The Tech defense clearly deserves some credit for making things difficult for Smart's team.
After landing in early foul trouble, Isaiah Taylor did much of his damage in the second half. The junior point guard was able to crack his way through the Raider defense and get to the rim, and was also able to find some chances in transition. He also did an excellent job passing the ball, on several occasions skipping the ball across the floor behind the Tech defensive rotations leading to wide open chances for his teammates.
In a game where Prince Ibeh was ineffective and struggled with foul trouble, and many of the Longhorns seemed to have a bad case of the yips, Felix and Taylor did enough to help Texas pull away and win the game by ten. With anything other than the miserable afternoon that Tech had shooting the ball this game would have been close.
- Norense Odiase was missing from the Texas Tech lineup. The sophomore big man broke a bone in his foot in late January, and the Raiders are currently playing without him. When Matthew Temple also had to leave the game with an injury in the first half, Tubby Smith was likely glad that he has so many good big men. Zach Smith and Aaron Ross ended up playing heavy minutes.
- While we are on the topic, I expect that Zach Smith will have a decent career in Lubbock. He was mostly quiet today in terms of scoring, but he did a lot of good things for the Red Raiders, getting seven rebounds, registering four assists, and making his presence felt on defense. Perhaps as a junior or senior we will see his name on an All-Big 12 team.
- Kerwin Roach is playing a lot for Shaka Smart right now. While the good mostly outweighs the bad, today was a day where we saw both the good and the bad for Roach. He was a bit out of control at times, registering four turnovers -- and it could have easily been more than this. On the other hand, he played well defensively, got to the basket on offense, and hit the glass. I remain impressed with how many rebounds Roach comes down with; today he had seven, which was tied for the game high.
- Texas Tech was not bothered by the Longhorn full court press. In the first half, the Red Raiders came out and attacked Texas' full court pressure, getting to the basket a number of times.
- The Longhorns only attempted 18 three pointers today. That is a little surprising, given that Texas typically takes a lot of threes and the Red Raiders generally allow opponents to shoot from long range. If you would have asked me how many threes I would have expected Smart's men to take today, I would have likely guessed a number between 25 and 30.
The Longhorns are back in action Monday night when they travel to Oklahoma to play the Sooners.