For about 30 minutes, the Baylor looked like they might pull off the road win in Lubbock. Then Texas Tech went on an 8-0 run that set the score at 61-51, and the night was over.
Kevin Obanor led the Texas Tech Red Raiders (20-6, 9-4) with 23 as Texas Tech outmuscled Baylor 83-73.
The game was decided in the second half when Baylor went on a 2-12 stretch that coughed up a the lead and allowed Tech to seize control. The Raiders’s offense came largely on and-1 attempts (several with dubious calls) and knock-down shooting from Obanor and Terrance Shannon (14 pts).
Both teams had foul trouble in the second half, but Baylor was not able to take advantage. Baylor was just 12-21 from the line. Tech, meanwhile, was 24-30. Free throws were the way Tech managed to get back into the game to end the first half. Baylor had an 8-point lead, but Tech hung around despite making just 1 field goal in the final 7 minutes of the half.
Baylor was a team that ran out of gas without Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua to provide extra juice. Kendall Brown (7 pts, 3 rebs), Jeremy Sochan (8 pts, 10 rebs), and Matthew Mayer (13 pts) played with energy and aggression in the first half, but eventually wave after wave of long-armed Texas Tech drivers forced Brown and Sochan into foul trouble and out of rhythm.
Flo Thamba had a fair game with 7 points and 9 rebounds in 27 minutes. He’s going to continue to be called on to play increased minutes.
Ultimately, Baylor lost tonight for similar reasons they lost to Tech in Waco. Tech is a poor matchup for what Baylor wants to do. The size on the wing is big and physical, tough for Baylor’s small guards and young wings to keep out of the paint. And on the other end, those long arms disrupt Baylor’s dribble into the paint and jump passing lanes. For a while, it seemed that Baylor might be able to ride jump shooting (50% FG and 41% 3PT in the first half), but those numbers fell off in the second half (37.9% FG, 33.3% 3PT).
A couple of threes in the final two minutes of the game from James Akinjo (18 pts, 7 ast) and Adam Flagler (14 pts, 4-8 3PT) brought the score a little closer, but this game was over for the final 10 minutes of play.
On the positive side of things, Baylor’s small ball lineups showed promise, especially in the first half. Brown, Sochan, and Akinjo were all +9 or more at halftime, evidence of the offensive versatility that those two wings bring when there’s no center clogging the paint. Those guys are still young (and Mayer still too wily) to make it work over a the stretch against a disciplined, physical team like Tech, but there are teams that won’t be able to match Baylor on the wing that will struggle to keep Baylor away from the rim.
It’s worth noting, too, that Cryer was effective in his limited minutes. His 6 points came on his first two shots, but his 15-minutes showed a player not terribly far off of his usual ability.
Texas Tech now possesses second in the Big XII standings, holding the tie-breaker over the Baylor Bears (21-5, 9-4). That gives Kansas a 2-game lead in the standings with just five games remaining in the season.
Tonight’s game marked the first time Tech has swept Baylor in a season since 2004-05.
Thankfully, Baylor has a get-right game against TCU in Waco on Saturday. That game, baring a Mike Miles explosion, should be a good opportunity for the Bears to develop chemistry down the stretch of the season.