Photo CC: Justin Rex/ ottumwacourier.com
Tech rounded out their final week without conference games with two wins over Abilene Christian and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Tech struggled to get going offensively against ACU and won by just seven points in a game that didn’t crack 100 total. ACU looks to be a scrappy, defense-focused squad that will give a higher seed fits in the tournament should they make it in. The stingy defense was a good litmus test for what Big 12 play will bring, starting this week with Kansas.
There were strong individual performances in each game with Kyler Edwards posting a 19-7 line against ACU while playing all 40 minutes & Terrence Shannon Jr. coming back strong from injury against Texas A&M-CC with 15 points in just 24 minutes. However, one of the biggest takeaways from the week was Marcus Santos-Silva solidifying his role on the team. With a total of seven blocks in the week’s two contests, along with averaging 10 points and 6 rebounds per game, Santos-Silva earned Week 3 POTW.
The VCU transfer has shown to be exactly what Tech fans were hoping for with his signing, a rim protector on defense, and an offensive rebound machine on the other end. Through the year’s first seven contests, Santos-Silva is posting career bests in Block%, Offensive Rebounding%, and Total Rebounding%. On the offensive glass, Santos-Silva will look to provide a much-needed boost from last year’s team who ranked 8th in the Big 12 in that category. His four-block game against ACU and three blocks Saturday in Frisco helped lead to the third-highest individual defensive win shares ranking in the country at 0.7, tied with teammates Kyler Edwards and Mac McClung.
Santos-Silva will have his hands full in Big 12 play with a plethora of talented, experienced bigs littering the conference, but based on his performance so far he looks to be ready for the challenge.
This week the Red Raiders have only one game and it is arguably the most important game of the year, at home versus Kansas. The Jayhawks visit Lubbock sporting the same record as the Raiders at 6-1, with their loss coming at the hands of Gonzaga, and are ranked #5 overall in the country. They have been battle-tested early, winning tight contests against two ranked teams in Kentucky and Creighton already this year. This game could go a long way in determining what the Big 12 standings look like heading into the tournament come March. Tech will need to start the game with more juice than they did against Houston earlier this year, or their start to conference play could get off on a bad foot.