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Postgame Report: Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech

Tech survives the Sooners and abysmal officiating to notch a good Big XII road win.

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(Requisite rant:  The officiating in this game was truly atrocious.  OU’s bigs were allowed to hammer anyone who dared attack the basket.  There were multiple obvious no-calls, along with several and-1s that should have been.  One drive in particular by Terrence featured him being flat-out bodied off of the court (a shot he somehow made) for the textbook definition of a foul.  No whistle, and if he hadn’t impressively managed to finish, it would have been a fast break the other way.  Meanwhile, OU kept being rewarded on the other end for the most ticky-tack of fouls, and towards the end of the game, the Sooners were strategically just stumbling around out-of-control because they were being sent to the line every time they did.  Santos-Silva and Shannon, Jr. fouled out this way on minimal contact on successive possessions, and Reaves promptly attempted to pull it off a third time the next possession, which finally wasn’t gifted. 

Despite OU playing a very physical game, Texas Tech didn’t enter the bonus in the second half to shoot even a one-and-one until the Sooners began intentionally fouling late in the game.  Worse, the problem wasn’t just bias towards the home team; it was incompetence.  The one favor Tech received in the second half was a Flagrant 1 that shouldn’t have been.   Poor Fran Fraschilla was desperately trying to come to the defense of the officials because they were blowing obvious calls left and right, but there was no excusing the sheer ineptitude on display.  Big XII officiating has progressively gotten worse and worse, and the present caliber of the league vastly exceeds the ability of the zebras to keep up with players and coaches who know how to manipulate their weaknesses.  

This game had no business being close, had it been called remotely well.  Texas Tech outplayed OU in every aspect of the game.  Even with a few late bounces going OU’s way to give Reaves a great chance for a putback to send it to OT as the clock ran out, it felt like the basketball gods just had finally had enough, and the shot caromed off.  Ball don’t lie.)

Moving on to the actual game, Terrence Shannon, Jr. had a tremendous outing.  Terrence is letting it fly from deep and it is opening up the Texas Tech offense.  It cannot be overstated how much it helps to have defenders have to start creeping out towards the perimeter.  Shannon, Jr. put the team on his back to break a second-half scoring drought, and he got it done offensively from everywhere on the court with 8-12 shooting and 50% from beyond the arc.  Throw in a pair of steals, a rebound, and an assist, and it’s hard to call his day anything but great.  Marcus Santos-Silva also played some terrific basketball, notching 18 points on 9-13 shooting along with seven boards, an assist, and a steal. Marcus had a play where he had a one-on-one in the lane with the shot clock winding down, got his defender up in the air, and tossed in a soft layup off the glass.  It was simply pretty basketball.  Also, Santos-Silva completely embarrassed Brady Manek throughout the game.  Marcus simply took the ball from him at one point like an adult playing against a child, and that pretty well sums up the matchup.  Manek was a non-factor, and he will likely have nightmares about Marcus for a while.

Mac McClung played his role perfectly in this game as well.  Mac created plenty of opportunities for himself as well as his teammates by driving the lane.  McClung honestly should have shot about twice the free throws that he did, but the officials inexplicably refused to put him on the line on multiple occasions when he clearly drew a foul.  Mac would manage to drain four key free throws in the closing seconds of the game once OU started intentionally fouling, which was an extremely welcome development.  In fact, the team shot 90% on 9/10 shooting from the free-throw line (yes, Tech shot 10 whole free throw attempts to OU’s 27).  McClung unquestionably closed out the victory for Tech with both his clutch free throws and a highlight-reel worthy drive/reverse to put Tech further ahead on a huge possession late.  Mac did precisely what he was brought in to do at Tech against the Sooners in being the team’s alpha who can take a game over and put it in the bucket with the game on the line.  Tech fans have to love to see him living up to the hype.

Kyler Edwards’ slump, unfortunately, continued save hitting one open three-pointer, and Micah Peavy has also gone cold of late after starting the season on fire.  However, Nimari Burnett and Jamarius Burton contributed more on the scoring end than usual, with Burnett hitting two big shots late in the first half.  Burton had some nice drives in the game but also botched a golden opportunity on a fast break in which he let OU’s Reaves strip the ball from him cleanly for a turnover.  McCullar continues to be needed to take some pressure off of the rest of the roster, and he appears close to returning.  Tyreek Smith also had a rough outing in very limited minutes.  Smith came in to spell MSS and had a play in the lane in which he should have just gone at the basket, but instead dribbled his way into trouble and lost the ball.  Chris Beard was very displeased, and Smith found himself on the bench for basically the rest of the game.  Admittedly, there wasn’t any reason to take MSS out of the game considering how well he was playing until the officials fouled him out of it, but Smith will certainly be needed during the year, so it’s unfortunate to see him riding the pine under any circumstance.

Of note, Beard appears to have drawn a clear line on where he thinks the talent dropoff is, as this was the second straight game in which only eight players played, and Benson, Nadolny, and Agbo did not enter the game.  All are yet to log any time in Big XII play.  Granted, the rotation number will certainly grow from eight to nine when McCullar returns, but it’s still a bit surprising to see such a cutoff in utilization.  This may be worth monitoring, as it could simply be the product of Beard not liking particular matchups or perhaps indicative that he thinks developing a core 8-9 is a better plan than getting some more experience for the end of the roster much in case they’re needed.  One could argue that Benson had already developed into the player he’s going to be, but Nadolny and Agbo could benefit from more minutes.  Here’s hoping that the upcoming matchup with UIW provides a margin in which Beard can feel more comfortable getting these players in the game.

The Red Raiders played a great game against OU.  Brady Manek was shut down, and Austin Reaves was limited to doing most of his damage at the free-throw line by intentionally flailing to get foul calls.  Tech got off to a faster start than usual and led almost the entire game.  It was a good effort on both ends of the floor.  Santos-Silva dominating inside to put points on the board made up for a few others not producing offensively, and the Tech defense and overall mental toughness proved excellent enough to survive games like this when the officiating was laughably inept and one-sided.  It would have been easy for the team to get frustrated and falter in having what should have been probably been a double-digit victory at the very least be kept close by forces outside of their control, but the Red Raiders stayed strong and got a good road win that should give them even more confidence going forward.

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