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Postgame Report: Kansas State vs. #18 Texas Tech

Shannon, Jr. and Santos-Silva lead Tech to a gritty victory

Photo CC: AP Photo/ Brad Tollefson

After the uninspired offensive effort against Oklahoma State, it was likely that a shake-up to the starting lineup was coming. Few would have guessed that the player on the bench to open the game would be Terrence Shannon, Jr., who is arguably the team’s best player. However, according to Chris Beard in the postgame, it was Terrence’s idea.

It takes some leadership to step up and step back, especially considering that Shannon, Jr. was playing some good basketball overall. It is tough to argue the results, as it seemed to spark Marcus Santos-Silva and Micah Peavy to elevate their offensive game early on and Terrence himself would come off the bench and stay on fire the rest of the game to post 22 points. Shannon, Jr. was playing some really inspired basketball some hustle plays where he dove after balls on the ground, along with several great takes to the basket that earned him trips to the free-throw line.

It’s tempting to keep writing about Terrence’s banner day, but Marcus Santos-Silva played a terrific game as well. He showed some great touch on some floaters in the paint and was a factor defensively, both under the rim and beyond. Santos-Silva made a KSU guard pay for a lazy dribble for a steal and score, which is the kind of play that’s atypical of a forward but great fun to see. Marcus did just about everything right in this game, including committing only one foul. He played like a veteran tonight and it helped get Tech through an otherwise slow start in the first half.

Mac McClung was quite early, but a few well-designed out-of-bounds plays got him a pair of open looks that he knocked down to get himself going. It was a great strategy by Chris Beard, and Mac would do his thing the rest of the game and finish with 16 points. Of note, McClung deserves special credit for his energy and toughness. He plays at 100% all of the time and really throws his body around, yet consistently dusts himself off like it’s nothing.

Kyler Edwards had an up-and-down game. Edwards badly missed two open threes early, which came as a surprise as he’s among Tech’s best pure shooters. Kyler rebounded nicely (figuratively and literally) as he contributed five boards and nine points. In games past when Kyler has started out off from a shooting standpoint, he has stayed that way, so it was a good sign to see him continue to believe in himself and finish well. Kevin McCullar only scored six points in this one, but also made some very tough plays inside. Kevin makes some attitude plays around the basket on both ends and often gets the team going doing so. They don’t always show up in the box score, but they often give Tech second chances on offense and make opponents uncomfortable on defense. He is the definition of a basketball player.

Micah Peavy did some good things in this game as well, but still needs to get back some of the scoring ability he showed early. Nine points is a fait bit above his average, so it’s tough to be too harsh there, and him going 3-4 from the free-throw line was a significant improvement. Still, it feels like he’s so close to being great, so it’s tough to stay patient knowing how good he can be.

A player who many are running out of patience with is Jamarius Burton, who continues to struggle. Burton passed on multiple open looks in the game in favor of driving at the basket, which is an area where he rarely finishes. There is a tentativeness to his play both in pulling the trigger as a shooter and as he drives at the basket, and his game really needs to improve. Nimari Burnett played little against Kansas State, so while Coach Beard deserves some kudos for some lineup success in the Shannon Jr. “benching”, Burnett actually riding the bench for most of the game while Burton had another lackluster outing is tougher to celebrate.

Tyreek Smith deserves a tip of the cap for some stellar defensive play in his few minutes. This was a game in which the only reason to take Santos-Silva off of the court was to give him rest, but Smith continues to own the basket when he’s in the game. It sure seemed like he got shorted a few blocks in the box score, but when both he and McCullar are on the floor together, good luck to any opponent trying a layup. Tyreek is really showing promise and continues to be a very valuable backup for MSS. Chibuzo Agbo did enter the game for a few minutes, but it would have been nice to see Avery Benson get some time. Perhaps it would have happened if the lead had gotten a bit higher, but Avery just isn’t a player who seems to ever put in bad minutes that would allow a team even in a semi-close game to come back.

Texas Tech as a team did allow Kansas State to stay in the game more than they should have. It wasn’t for the typical reason, as thankfully the free throw shooting of 30-36 for 83.3% was part of the reason the Red Raiders won. There were some uncharacteristic easy baskets given up to backdoor cuts and botched help defense in the second half. Additionally, Tech wasted multiple fast breaks that could have turned the game into a blowout. Such plays are emotional backbreakers for the opponent as well, so the Red Raiders really need to work on finishing those opportunities. The Big XII is too good of a league to get away with letting a team hang around, as was all too evident in the referee-aided upset by Oklahoma State last game.

For what it’s worth, the officiating was an improvement, which isn’t saying much. Kansas State got two technical fouls in the second half, and predictably, Bruce Weber wasn’t happy about either of them. Still, both seemed fairly earned, and the Wildcats have been often prone under Weber to streetball antics that can lead to such. There were several uncalled and-1 plays that Tech should have had, but the overall free throw disparity accurately reflected Tech playing a relatively clean game and KSU playing physical. It’s honestly exhausting discussing officiating each week, but it’s often a factor in this league, so it bears mentioning, good and bad. It’s hard to call this game’s officiating “good”, but after last week’s atrocity, it was comparatively excellent. Hilariously, Mac McClung attempted a virtually identical play to Cade Cunningham’s and didn’t get sent to the line for three free throws. Even the announcers repeatedly noted how abysmal of a call the Cunningham play was, and it was welcome to hear that acknowledged by those outside the Texas Tech fanbase. Still, that L remains on the books, so Tech bouncing back with a good W is a testament to the team’s 4:1 mental toughness and will help get things back on track.

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