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Texas Tech Eye Test | I Came In Like A Wreck’Em Ball

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NCAA Basketball: Texas at Baylor Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first one of these bad boys that I am penning on an opponent I have already written about, so this could either be really great or incredibly unhelpful. I personally am rooting for a great read here. But making zero promises.

Here’s the deal, we have a top 15 road matchup in a brutal place to play. Personally if I had to travel to Lubbock for any reason I would perform poorly and be looking to get the heck outta dodge. But I am actually confident the boys will be ready, this game is legitimately the equivalent of a Sweet 16 game…#math.

At this point in the season, what you see from a team is what they are. So everything that we discussed previously about Tech will probably still hold true. Nonetheless, I will rewatch a few games, including the game in Waco, and break down anything new or reinforce what we had seen previously from the Red Raiders.

The first piece I wrote on Texas Tech was actually my favorite one I have written for ODB so far. Texas Tech twitter came all up in my DM’s to talk smack after giving the article a read. I am pumped to interact with the bozos (meant fully as a term of endearment) from Lubbock over the next few days. Also just to be fully honest, I really like Mark Adams, there I said it.

Setting the Scene

The Who: #7 Baylor MBB x #11 Texas Tech MBB

The What: Revenge game in Everyday Jon’s honor

The Where: New Mexico

The When: Wednesday 2/16 8:00 PM CT on ESPN2

The Why: Baylor looking to secure a huge road win and eliminate a crowd swag surf at the United Supermarkets Arena (look up Texas Tech swag surf on YouTube)

How We Got Here

Since the Bears and Red Raiders first season matchup in January both teams have rattled off some big wins and tough losses. Texas Tech has continued a solid run this season, with additional losses only coming to Kansas State, Kansas (should’ve won), and Oklahoma (woof) all on the road. In recent weeks Tech has also dismantled Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, and TCU.

Baylor has had a similar up and down stretch. The Bears also have three additional losses since the matchup with Tech. As we all know we followed up that Tech game with an inexcusable loss to Oklahoma State, a messy road loss to Alabama, and an absolute clowning in Lawrence against Kansas. Baylor has also had some big wins over West Virginia (2x), Kansas State (2x), and most recently pumping Texas.

Another constant between both the Red Raiders and the Bears are both programs inability to stay healthy. Texas Tech has still seen Shannon Jr. and McCullar either missing games or in limited minutes when they play. Most recently McCullar tweaked his ankle against TCU in a bizarre sequence, by stepping on TCU’s coach’s foot on the sidelines.

We are all very familiar with Baylor’s injury woes. Cryer still isn’t playing in what remains a “pain tolerance” foot injury. I think that is total crap and we should all be more concerned. And most recently, the brutal injury to Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. EJ went through surgery on 2/15.

All that to say, there are a ton of similarities between these programs. Both teams are hard nosed, efficient, and not quite whole. Last time these teams met, Texas Tech squeaked out an impressive win in Waco after Baylor blew a 15 point lead. How will the Bears respond in Lubbock?

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech Eye Test

I have somehow found myself consuming an unbelievable amount of Texas Tech game tape. For the first eye test I watched their tape from Providence, Tennessee, Gonzaga, Iowa State, and Kansas. For Episode II of the Tech Eye Test, I watched tape from the Red Raiders recent clashes with Kansas State (L), Kansas (L), Oklahoma (L), their win in Waco.

The reason I wanted to rewatch film from recent losses is I already have a good idea of what Texas Tech does well, I watched it first hand. What is puzzling to me, are the Texas Tech losses to inferior opponents, K-State and Oklahoma.

As stated in the intro, at this point in the season most teams have an identity. We already know what Texas Tech does well, right? They defend their butts off and capitalize on mistakes they force their opponents into. And the Red Raiders are elite offensively in the paint.

We also know what Texas Tech doesn’t do well. They are not a good jump shooting team, period. When we first played these clowns they ranked 192nd in 3FG%, believe it or not they have gotten worse! Texas Tech is now shooting just 31.32% from deep as a team, ranking 292nd in the country. As a reminder 350 teams total, not great Bob. When the Red Raiders get behind it is really difficult for them to claw back in.

All that to say, here’s either a refresher if you are a day one, or a news flash if you’re a late adopter of what to expect from Texas Tech.

Texas Tech Offense

You can’t watch or talk about Texas Tech without acknowledging this team’s size. Almost every rotation player is above 6’ 5” and athletic. The Red Raiders take advantage of their size on offense by playing bully ball and scoring efficiently inside.

Texas Tech will play through their bigs and make sure that their guards and wings are set up to get clean looks. The Red Raider bigs are capable ball handlers, screeners, passers, and scorers. Texas Tech does a great job offensively playing within their wheelhouse and staying on schedule with their game plan.

The Red Raider half court offense is very dependent on efficient two point offense. Tech will drive and get to the rim with purpose, converting most looks at the rim. If a clear driving lane isn’t there, Red Raider guards do a phenomenal job finding cutters or big men in the post.

The Red Raiders also look to run their offense around the elbow. Texas Tech will often screen for ball handlers at the elbow, and also take open shots from mid range. Tech runs a lot of pick and roll action from the elbow and will take advantage of starting offensive sets deeper into their opponents defense.

The Red Raiders generate a lot of offensive looks from great defense. Off steals, blocks, or missed shots the Red Raiders get out running quickly. Whoever grabs the rebound for Tech almost always looks to pass first to the outlet man and dribble second.

There are two major knocks on the Red Raider offense. First, as we mentioned, these dudes are broke from deep. They have a few guys who are capable spot up shooters, but as a whole just straight booty from downtown. Second, their offense can become stagnant when they aren’t converting at the rim.

Texas Tech Defense

As we have experienced in recent memory, Texas Tech is an elite defensive ball club. Tech ranks 3rd in KenPom and 6th in EvanMiya defensive rankings. The Red Raiders are stifling defenders and cause headaches for their opponents. Again, not a numbers guy, but these numbers appear to be good.

The Red Raider defense continues to impress on a game in and game out basis. The only loss for Tech that their defense was to blame was against Kansas, all others sat squarely on the offense’s shoulders.

Texas Tech’s defensive scheme plays to their strengths, length, athleticism, speed, and discipline. Texas Tech’s switch everything 6’ 5” lineup causes major issues for their opponents. The Red Raider length closes passing and driving lanes. They make their opponents force plays and not let the game come to them.

Tech’s entire rotation is incredibly athletic, quick, and disciplined. The Red Raiders rarely make mistakes, and when they do they are able to make up for it with their lateral speed.

The primary way to beat this Red Raider defense is by spacing the floor, making quick decisive passes to reverse the ball, and attack baseline. Texas Tech debilitates teams when forcing ball handlers to dribble into the heart of the defense.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech Players to Watch

We should all be very familiar with these fellas because most of them gave us the business in January. I will keep some of the descriptions from the first eye test because most of their games haven’t changed, but will update stats or call out any strides forward these guys have taken…hint Bryson Williams and Adonis Arms.

#11 Bryson Williams – Forward

Bryson Williams is a 6’ 8” Senior forward. Williams is a cut, strong, prototypical stretch big in today’s college basketball scheme. Williams has had a recent surge in production for the Red Raiders, and leads the team in scoring with 13.4 PPG. Williams still does most of his scoring inside, but does lead the Red Raiders in 3FG%, shooting 45.8% from deep.

Williams is one of the key bigs that sets elbow screens to start the Tech offensive sets. After screening, Williams usually dives to the basket or pops out to rotate the ball. Typically Williams’ three point attempts come off of pick and pops at the top of the key.

Defensively, Williams can pop out and contain guards beyond the arc, and use his big frame to be a stopper in the paint. He is versatile and a cornerstone to the Red Raiders success.

#1 Terrence Shannon Jr. – Guard

TJ Shannon is a 6’ 6” Junior combo guard for the Red Raiders. Shannon has continued to be in and out of the lineup, primarily coming off the bench. Shannon is second on the Red Raiders in scoring averaging 11.6 PPG, he adds 2.5 RPG and 1.6 APG.

Shannon has a quick first step, and loves to go to the rim with his dominant left hand. He has great bounce and is looking to poster anyone who jumps with him. Shannon is also a solid shooter and can knock down mid range jumpers and three balls.

An active defender, Shannon can give ball handlers fits with his length and athleticism. Shannon didn’t play in the matchup in Waco, but is slated to go in this game. He will probably give us fits so strap in.

#15 Kevin McCullar – Guard

Kevin McCullar is a 6’ 6” Junior guard, and has continued to be a focal point for the Red Raiders. McCullar is third on the Red Raiders in scoring at 10.8 PPG, first in rebounding at 5.3 RPG, first in assists at 3.2 APG, and first in steals at 1.4 SPG. There’s no way around it, McCullar is a stat stuffer.

McCullar was limited against the Bears in January, but made big plays down the stretch. He had been working himself back into form and was playing some elite basketball as of late. Unfortunately, McCullar had a freak incident and rolled his ankle on the TCU coach Jamie Dixon’s foot along the sideline and missed the entire second half against TCU (see below). TBD if McCullar will suit up Wednesday.

As a reminder, McCullar is a big body guard and has a filled out frame. He uses his body well to get offensive boards and also to defend. McCullar is difficult to move off his spot if he gets his defender in the post, and is a great post passer and scorer.

#2 Davion Warren – Guard

Davion Warren is a 6’ 6” Senior guard. These still aren’t typos, all of Tech’s guards are borderline forwards with ball skills, and Warren fits that mold. This season is Warren’s first in Lubbock, after spending his first two college seasons with the Hampton Pirates.

Warren is Tech’s fourth leading scorer at 10.1 PPG, but most makes his presence felt at the defensive end. He is a great face guarding defender, moves his feet well, and is physical. Pretty much anyone Warren covered against Baylor was clamped up.

#0 Kevin Obanor – Forward

Kevin Obanor is a 6’ 8” Senior forward. Obanor spent his first three college seasons at Oral Roberts and was a part of the ORU team that upset Ohio State and Florida in the tournament last season. Against Ohio State Obanor had 30 points, and against Florida he had 28 points. This man can score the ball, and has never seen a three ball he didn’t like. Like seriously, this man pulls all the time.

Obanor averages 9.8 PPG this season and 4.9 RPG. He has continued to lead the Red Raiders in three point attempts. This dude keeps on pulling, but is only shooting 31.1% from deep. Obanor often takes some head scratcher threes, but if he gets to the corners he is lethal.

Obanor reminds me a ton of the Houston Rockets version of PJ Tucker. Total grinder and super high motor, frustrates his opponents, but will give you one or two “what are you doing” plays every game.

#25 Adonis Arms – Guard

Adonis Arms is a 6’ 5” Senior guard, in his first season at Texas Tech. Arms transferred to Tech after spending last season with the Winthrop Eagles. Arms’ minutes have been increasing for the Red Raiders. Arms has completely stepped up lately and has been playing really good ball.

Arms averages 7.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.0 SPG. He is a capable scorer and solid defender, but isn’t a focal point of the Tech offense if Shannon and McCullar are playing. Without these two guys, Arms is pushed into more minutes and a bigger role. Arms is athletic and will often pick up his man full court.

Reminder, Arms is the man that posterized Mayer in one of the most disgusting dunks I’ve seen live in January.

#14 Marcus Santos-Silva – Forward

Marcus Santos-Silva is a 6’ 7” Senior forward, and is typically the first forward off the bench for the Red Raiders. Santos-Silva is a big body, checking in at 250lbs. He is primarily a screener, and will do most of his damage in the post, averaging 5.1 PPG on an efficient 61.6% from the field.

Santos-Silva is really physical, and when smaller players switch on to him he plays a ton of bully ball. He is efficient at drawing fouls and knows how to use his body well.

#3 Clarence Nadolny – Guard

Clarence Nadolny is a 6’ 3” Junior from France. Nadolny had played limited minutes throughout much of the season, but due to player absences his minutes have increased.

Nadolny started against Baylor, and cooked the Bears putting up 11 points. Nadolny has continued to play well with Tech’s lineup inconsistencies.

Bottom Line

Texas Tech has continued to prove themselves to be an outstanding and top 10 team (yes I know they’re technically ranked 11, chill out) in the country despite some weird losses. The Red Raiders defend better than almost anyone in the country and lock down some of the Big 12’s best scorers. Mark Adams always has the boys ready.

The Red Raiders are a brutal matchup for the Bears as we saw in January, and I am big scared for this game. The Red Raider offense will continue to cause matchup nightmares with their size and ability to finish inside. If Texas Tech knocks down their open threes, we might as well pack it in.

There may not be a team that plays with as much of a “why not us” mentality like Texas Tech. The team is fully bought into the program and system and is executing at an incredibly high level. I personally hope this is the last time Baylor has to play these dudes this season.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Baylor Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Why Baylor Wins

I just raved about the kids out west for far too long. Tech is good, but the Bears are going to get this done. I am buying stock on the squad rallying around the EJ injury and taking the momentum into the home stretch of the season.

Drew is going to put on a coaching clinic. We are going to walk into Lubbock, New Mexico and clap these boys. Here’s how.

#0 Flo Thamba – @Flo_T3

With EJ out for the season, Flo’s minutes are about to balloon. As we saw against Texas, Flo is up to the challenge. In 30 minutes of play Flo had 12 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and only 2 fouls.

Baylor will need Flo to do much of the same against Texas Tech in Lubbock. Flo will need to help Baylor get clean looks by setting solid (NOT MOVING) screens and when he gets the ball in the post, Flo has to convert.

Defensively, Flo will have to protect the rim. He is Baylor’s most reliable true big man left in the rotation, and against a Tech team that loves to go to the rim we need Flo to play straight up.

#1 Jeremy Sochan – @SochanJeremy

Sochan didn’t play in the first matchup with Texas Tech, and I think he will be a big difference maker. He isn’t coming off his strongest performance against Texas. The biggest issue was Sochan fouled out, granted the refs were calling some ticky-tack ish.

Sochan will be able to help Baylor space the floor and keep the offense moving. As we discussed, the best way to attack and beat the Red Raider defense is to space the floor, pass quickly, don’t over dribble, and reverse the ball. Sochan does all of these really well.

As a stretch forward his game is unique and refined. I don’t expect to see Sochan make many mistakes which will be key. Sochan will need to knock down open catch and shoot threes when the ball rotates to him, or be comfortable attacking the rim off the dribble.

Sochan’s length was greatly missed on the defensive end in the first matchup with Tech. The Red Raider size gave Flagler, Bonner, Akinjo, and Cryer fits, Sochan should be able to limit some of the mismatches defensively.

As a reminder, Baylor is undefeated with bald Sochan…coincidence, I think not.

#2 Kendall Brown – @TheeKbrown

Brown has been playing much more confident, assertive, and flat out better basketball over the last few weeks. I think we have seen Kendall step up and play with a sense of purpose and composure that is really encouraging. Against Texas Brown posted 10 points, 8 rebounds (5 offensive rebounds, what?), 1 assist, and 2 steals in 33 minutes of play.

Brown was crucial to Baylor’s success against Texas. He was moving constantly on offense, which limited the Longhorn’s ability to get their defense set. I think Kendall does much of the same against Texas Tech.

Brown’s athleticism can’t be matched, and is highlighted when he is moving with purpose on both ends of the floor. Brown will inevitably be put in some tougher matchup situations without EJ, but I expect him to answer the call in a tough environment.

A place to attack Tech is on back door and baseline cuts when the Red Raiders over help on ball reversals, I can’t wait to see Brown cut back door and catch a lob that silences the Red Raider faithful.

#3 Dale Bonner – @dalebonne

The Dale Bonner we saw in the first matchup with Texas Tech is not the Dale Bonner we all know and love today. As we all know, Bonner has primarily stepped up to fill the void of LJ Cryer, and oh honey do I love this man.

Bonner has been a fantastic piece in the Drew rotation. He continues to play incredibly hard, make all the right plays, and defend tenaciously. We need A1 Dale Bonner against Texas Tech.

Bonner is only 6’ 2” which on paper, and probably in practice is problematic, but I am all in on him stepping up big. Bonner will no doubt be asked to guard bigger players, and if he can play defense with his feet and stay in front of his man, he does his job.

On offense we have been seeing Bonner play with the silky smoothness of the old dude from rec league. Bonner has been tight off the dribble, efficient at the rim, and stroking jumpers. If he can just give Baylor an efficient 6 or 8 points with limited turnovers, it will be a huge lift.

#4 LJ Cryer – @LjCryer

I just don’t expect LJ to play. I am really concerned that his surgically repaired foot is still giving him issues. I am frankly worried we won’t see him again this season. I hope I’m wrong.

But if he does play, scary hours from a floor spacing and shooting perspective.

#10 Adam Flagler – @adamflagler

I have a buddy who has been upset with Adam since the OSU game, and it is completely irrational. This friend of mine was saying he wouldn’t be confident in Flagler until he had a career day. Well, he who must not be named, Flagler balled out against Texas and his twitter handle is above, apologize to the young king.

Flagler played 35 of 40 minutes against Texas and was an efficient 8-11 from the floor (4-5 3PT) posting 20 points. I don’t know what came over this man but I hope it never leaves. He was a killer off the bounce, and lethal on catch and shoot threes. Thank you sir may I have another of these?

In the first matchup with Tech, Flagler was one of the few bright spots, with 17 points. Clearly Flagler can get his against this Red Raider team, and Baylor will need him to do so. Flagler will have to help the offense continue flowing by passing, cutting, and relocating quickly on offense. When the ball is skipped out to him, he has to knock down open threes.

Flagler will need to play solid defense, and not reach in when guarding bigger players. If Flagler can move his feet well on defense and force the Tech player he is guarding into tough shots he will have done his job. Basically just don’t get blown by or foul and we will be straight.

#11 James Akinjo – @akinjojames3 (Insta no Twitter for our boy)

I have such a no no no, yes! relationship with Akinjo and it is taking years off my life. Akinjo is so incredibly skilled with the ball, but sometimes hoists up shots in situations I wish we could have back, unless they go in.

Akinjo was most efficient in the second half against Texas, and took command of the Baylor offense against the statistically best defense in the country. I expect him to do much of the same against Texas Tech.

If you remember, Akinjo took and missed the last shot against the Red Raiders in an all time weird last possession. I expect Akinjo to want revenge and this is a bulletin board material game for him.

Baylor will need Akinjo to not dribble into traffic in an attempt to break down the Texas Tech defense. Instead, like everyone else, Akinjo will need to try and attack by making smart and quick passes to get the Red Raiders moving. You simply cannot beat the Texas Tech defense one on one, it has to be a team offensive system.

I really think we see a great version of Akinjo in Lubbock. In the Bears last big road game at Phog Allen, Akinjo was scoreless on 0-11 shooting, I expect him to bounce back in a huge way.

#23 Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (EJ) – @JonathanTchamwa

EJ is out for the rest of the season. But I will keep him on this list. He is still the heartbeat of this team, a fan favorite, and one of the best men to ever put on the green and gold.

Prayers up for a smooth recovery.

#24 Matthew Mayer – @MatthewMayer24

Matthew Mayer continues to put me in a mental pretzel. Like he clearly is one of the most talented guys on the roster right? But on occasion it looks like he just doesn’t have the “it” spark that he did last year.

One thing he has shown is that he isn’t scared of the moment, and this game in Lubbock is a big moment. Mayer will step up. It will be Matthew Mayer Time.

Mayer will have to play bigger in EJ’s absence, listed at 6’ 9” there will be instances where he has to play forward and not guard. Granted, Baylor does sort of run a positionless system but you get my point.

Mayer will have to stay out of foul trouble. I think if he gets to halftime with 2 fouls and extends his minutes, Baylor wins the game. Mayer plays much better on defense when Baylor is flying around and creating chaos for their opponent, and I think the Bears will do that against Texas Tech.

Where we have seen Mayer thrive most offensively is when the ball is moving quickly, and isn’t reliant on iso ball. Again, to beat Tech you have to move the ball on offense. The Drew Crew is way smarter than me so if I see this they certainly do as well. I expect Baylor to play a much more free flowing offense and for Mayer to capitalize on the opportunity.

Double double guaranteed and a ton of #IMMT tweets incoming.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Baylor Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction

Once again shout out to you for reading this much of my basketball hot takes. To my Texas Tech crew reading this, you are a good team, but you just recently got swag surfed by OU so I think the Bears get this done.

Here we go, can’t wait for all of the predictions here to be 100% correct. I may go buy a power ball ticket, I’m feeling so dialed in today.

The Red Raiders will come out guns up and all that fun stuff they say out west. But for real I expect the fans to be rocking and them to set the tone from the jump. Texas Tech will open the game with some big defensive stops, fast break buckets, and probably one or two open threes that force Coach Drew to take an early timeout.

At this point I will probably tweet something along the lines of “Panic button out of the drawer” or “Scott Drew has asked that I consume another hazy IPA”.

But, Coach Drew is an incredible in-game adjuster. Baylor will throw some sort of wrench at the Red Raiders they haven’t seen before. Zone perhaps??

Whatever adjustment Coach Drew makes, I expect it to get the Bears back close in the first half and go on a mini run. Nothing crazy, like a 10-4 run to cut the game to a single digit deficit at halftime.

It will be all Baylor to open the second half. The Bears will make some big changes at half and the fellas will get rolling and the defense will suffocate Tech’s offense. The Bears will go on a 10-0 #EvanMiya certified run and take their first lead of the game.

From here it will be a back and forth, nail biting game through the rest of the second half. But, Baylor will make stops when it counts, the Red Raiders will be forced into jumpers, and we will be leaving New Mexico with a HUGE DUB.

PS: Tech has only won one game when held below 60. That’s the key.

Baylor 64 – Texas Tech 59

Texas Tech is currently favored by 2 with the Over/Under set at 136. By my prediction I am taking the Bears +2. I never bet the under however, because rooting for less points should get you institutionalized.