Texas Tech has struggled at times this season to hold onto big leads and put teams away. It was a welcome change of pace for Chris Beard and the Red Raider faithful to watch the team do exactly that coming off of a big win over Texas. The Red Raiders beat TCU by 20, but it honestly didn’t even feel that close.
Mac McClung was given rest as he played only 17 minutes as opposed to his usual 30. Terrence Shannon, Jr. continued his unselfish ways by volunteering to give up some of his minutes for team and fan favorite Vladislav Goldin. The Red Raiders didn’t even need their two best scorers in this game. Kyler Edwards had his best game of the season in posting 17 points in the first half. He took over the late minutes of the first half and pushed the lead to a double-digit margin from which TCU would never recover. As a team, Texas Tech put on a passing display en route to 22 assists. Defensively, RJ Nembhard was the only TCU player to score in double digits. Tech was able to shut down a capable scorer in Mike Miles.
This game was essentially decided at halftime, and the Red Raiders had the luxury of emptying the bench. Tyreek Smith was the biggest beneficiary, as he was already playing his way into more meaningful minutes. Smith again looked very strong in this game and showed tremendous promise. The crowd in the arena demanded Vlad, and they got it.
Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came on his lone bucket, which easily could have been an and-1. Goldin was the only player on the team who didn’t log double-digit minutes in the game. Chibuzo Agbo continued his momentum from the Texas game to post four points, a rebound, and an assist. Clarence Nadolny was active and created plays while he was in the game. Avery Benson had a quiet day, but overall, there’s an argument that Tech’s bench was better than TCU’s starters, and that’s impressive.
Of the starters, Shannon, Jr. and McClung’s intentionally-limited days mentioned above allowed for Edwards’ big day. This also allowed for Micah Peavy to run the point for much of the second half. Peavy being able to get more experience is terrific for his development and speaks to how much Beard sees in him. The offense didn’t take a step back with mostly backups in and Peavy bringing it down the court, which is a credit to both Micah and the depth of the roster. Kevin McCullar played his typically excellent all-around game with entries all over the box score to go along with nine points.
Marcus Santos-Silva struggled on the scoring end in missing a few easy baskets that he typically converts. Santos-Silva did contribute well by adding four assists. The story of this game, though, was the bench and Kyler Edwards. Edwards having a big scoring day is huge if he can keep it going into March. His struggles have come against some of the elite teams, which TCU is not. Still, it should be noted that this same Horned Frog team swept what has proven to be a solid Oklahoma State team. This decisive victory and Edwards’ performance certainly deserve praise.
As far as “official watch”, this was a rare occasion in which the calls went Tech’s way for most of the game. The favorable calls weren’t needed, nor did they factor into the outcome. The fact remains that Tech got charge calls it has not in prior games. The inconsistency game to game and sometimes half to half continues, and this Tech team surely could have used some of these calls in other matchups this season.
Nevertheless, Texas Tech is playing some quality basketball in the last two games. Provided it can take care of business against a struggling ISU team, the Red Raiders will be potentially playing their way back into a five or four seed depending on what happens against Baylor and in the Big XII tournament. Texas Tech appears to be rounding into March form just as it needs to. Are the Red Raiders primed for another big postseason run? We’ll know soon enough.