Photo CC: Associated Press (AP)
After a somewhat humbling loss against Houston, Texas Tech needed to get back on track to look like the program it is expected to be this year. Originally, St. John’s was on the schedule to provide a decent test, but they declined to make the trip due to COVID precautions, so a quick adjustment was required to make this game happen. While the level of competition was lower than SJU and well below that of UH, the Red Raiders looked every bit as good as Chris Beard and Texas Tech fans could have hoped. There would be no sluggish start this week, as Mac McClung came out on fire and was in double-digits early in the game. McClung continues to lead the team in scoring as he confidently pulls the trigger. Mac appears to have a permanent green light to shoot, and deservedly so.
Terrence Shannon, Jr. and Kyler Edwards were uncharacteristically quiet against Houston, but both shot well against the Trojans, scoring 13 and 14 points respectively on a combined 8-15 from the field. Micah Peavy continues to play well beyond his years, as there is a great deal of polish to his game. Peavy is playing very much in control and glides his way into open looks, with his mid-range shooting proving deadly so far. Marcus Santos-Silva had an off night, as he wasn’t needed as much with the guards having a great shooting night. Still, Tyreek Smith is breathing down his neck, as Smith put in some terrific minutes in this game. Tyreek finished with three blocks and beat his man off the dribble beautifully late in the game, in addition to showing his range with a deep three. Texas Tech will need both Santos-Silva and Smith throughout the year, but Smith is making a very good case for more minutes.
The Nimari Burnett watch continues, as Texas Tech fans wait for him to live up to his significant hype. Burnett displayed both good and bad here, as he had five turnovers, but was also very active overall with four rebounds, three blocks, and two steals to go along with seven points from the floor. Patience will be key for the Red Raider faithful as he develops, but the promise is starting to show. Tech fans don’t need to wait on Avery Benson, who remains a fan favorite. Benson nailed a semi-contested three late in the shot clock and had arguably the play of the game in chasing down a breakaway for a textbook block. The crowd also went wild to see Vladislav Goldin’s first minutes. Goldin moves well for his size and scored from both the floor and at the charity stripe, while also tallying three boards. Clarence Nadolny struggled in his minutes, fouling out without doing much else. Jamarius Burton notched a decent amount of time in the game and quietly contributed in multiple ways, though little on the scoring end. Burton has a good command of the offense and creates well to add value that doesn’t necessarily translate to the box score.
As a team, there was lots of hustling on the floor from the Red Raiders. The charge board will be full this week, as new faces like Peavy and McClung have clearly embraced the Beard culture defensively. The hands were active in forcing 22 Troy turnovers. Shannon, Jr. in particular was all over the floor and put together a very high-effort game. The free throw woes unfortunately continued for Tech, as the team went a collective 59.1% from the line. Unless this improves, it will cost the Red Raiders wins, as it arguably did against Houston. Overall, however, this was a good performance from a Tech team that needed it. The Red Raiders have another few tune-up games the next few weeks leading up to a huge conference opener against Kansas, and more performances like this will be key in preparation and increasing cohesiveness.