Big 12 Tournament hoops preview: Texas Tech

Andrew Jones drives against WVU (Will Gallagher/IT)
Andrew Jones drives against WVU (Will Gallagher/IT)

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Hoops Preview: Big 12 Tournament – Texas Tech
Wednesday, March 8
Time: 8:30 pm Central
Television: ESPNU
Location: Kansas City, MO (Sprint Center)

Big 12 Rematch Game
: After splitting the regular season contests, Texas starts whatever small postseason hopes they have for the year when they take on Texas Tech in Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament. Find the full Texas Tech hoops preview here.

Texas Keys: Offense

Perimeter shooting. There are 347 NCAA D1 teams. Of those teams, Texas ranks #339 in three point field goal percentage. The turnovers aren’t great, but they’re not close to the three point shooting (228). The assist numbers aren’t great, but they’re not close to the three point shooting (281). The offensive rebounding numbers aren’t great, but they’re not close to the three point shooting (245). Basically, of all the things Texas is bad at (and there are plenty of them), nothing approaches their three point shooting – no, not even the free throw shooting (a scorching #319 by comparison). Shaka’s offensive system is built on individual playmaking and the ability to turn that playmaking into open looks and three point makes. And last year, when Davis and Roach were at 38% and 34%, respectively, (and Young and Jones were lighting up the prep circuit from deep) it seemed like a solid approach to their offensive sets. Well, this year, Eric is shooting 26%, Roach is shooting 28%, Young is shooting 24%. Even Jones (33% for the season) has shot only 6-28 (21%) over Texas’ last seven games (all losses). You simply can’t shoot that poorly and have hopes to beat teams the likes of which you see night in and night out in the Big 12 Conference.

Texas Keys: Defense

I don’t know. Compete? That’s not meant as an indictment of their chances. Rather, it’s meant to say that Tech’s offense is predicated on wearing you down and forcing you to defend for a full shot clock, even if it means taking a contested mid range jumper with two seconds left. Tech will use ball screens for Evans and Gray; curls for Ross and Livingston; and hope to get enough timely shot making out of Stevenson, Thomas and Smith to keep Texas at arm’s length. If you allow Tech to lull you to sleep, they’ve got the individual playmaking (Evans and Gray) to get points up when they need them. Texas must fight through the apathy/lethargy and allow their natural ability to carry them past a team that arguably is only better than them at one spot (albeit the most important spot on the floor).

The Endgame

Texas Tech is fighting for its NCAA Tournament life. They probably need a trip to the finals (maybe even have to win it), but the tangible nature of what they’re shooting for is markedly different than Texas.

Don’t be surprised if this is close until a late run at the end when Tech takes advantage of a Longhorn team that is ready to be out of their misery.

I expect this to be Texas’ final game of the season.

Prediction: Texas Tech 72 – Texas 61

Projected Starting Lineup