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Postgame Report: #18 Texas Tech at #3 Baylor

Edwards shines again, but Baylor’s lights-out perimeter shooting is too much to overcome

Photo CC: Baylor University Athletics

When an opposing player sets a record for made three-pointers in a single game, and the opponent shoots 65.2% from range overall, it’s not particularly difficult to guess the outcome. Macio Teague was beyond on fire from the three-point line in an absurd 10-12 shooting display. While perimeter defense has been this Texas Tech team’s sole defensive weakness, it didn’t matter in this game because virtually everything Baylor tossed up went in, contested or not.

The Red Raiders managed to overcome a slow start and were very much in this game until a stretch in the second half when Tech allowed Baylor multiple second and third chances on successive possessions, and each ended in a made three-pointer. Credit to Mark Vital in particular for hustling for some rebounds. His 15 boards were a large part of the reason Baylor was able to gain open looks. Tech was outrebounded and outshot, and the game was decided then and there.

However, all is far from lost here. It was a banner shooting day even by Baylor standards, and the big takeaway for Tech fans should be that Kyler Edwards is in postseason form. Edwards came into the game on an excellent scoring stretch, but it had come against some weaker defenses. Baylor has a very good defense, yet Kyler did his thing once again. This is huge for Texas Tech.

We know that Mac McClung and Terrence Shannon will typically put up the points. Edwards (and Kevin McCullar) scoring in double-digits will give the Red Raiders a chance to win most nights. This game just wasn’t one of those nights, going up against one of the nation’s most talented teams that looked fresh and back in sync after their three-week vacation.

Edwards’ day of 7-10 from the field, 4-6 from deep, five boards, four assists, two steals, and two blocks made an impact. That is quality veteran play, and he was far and away Tech’s player of the game. Kevin McCullar also deserves credit for producing on the offensive end. While his on-ball defense remains a thing of beauty, both he and Marcus Santos-Silva struggled to gather rebounds in this game, which is atypical.

Granted, some of these plays were unlucky bounces right back to Baylor, but Vital arguably outhustled Tech’s bigs in this game. From a guard standpoint, Baylor also managed to hold McClung and Shannon, Jr. below their typical output. Tech’s dynamic duo typically goes for 30+ points but only managed 18 in this one. McClung, in particular, was blanketed and never got much going. Santos-Silva missed a few easy buckets inside, and Peavy tried to make some midrange contributions. Even when Tech did score two, Baylor was typically answering with three.

Tyreek Smith was the standout off of the bench. In only six minutes of play, he managed three boards and five points in another perfect shooting outing. In retrospect, he probably should have gotten more time in this game. Clarence Nadolny was quiet in this game but did put some incredible leadership on display.

He calmed Edwards down after a typically atrocious foul call from a crew featuring the notoriously poor Doug Sirmons. Having been assessed a key technical himself not long ago by Sirmons & Co., Clarence quickly hustled Kyler away. Chibuzo Agbo and Avery Benson played fine in limited minutes, but neither was a factor in this game.

Realistically, though, this just wasn’t going to be Tech’s day. Baylor is already a very talented team that’s tough to beat on an average day, and this game was about as well as Baylor can play. It doesn’t affect much for Tech, as the team would have finished 6th in the conference either way with Texas beating TCU later in the evening.

The Red Raiders will now play the Longhorns for a third time this season. Tech has had UT’s number, but beating a team three times in a year is always tough. Again, though, this game won’t particularly matter. Tech is comfortably in the NCAA tournament and should be focusing on that. With Kyler Edwards getting hot at the right time, Tech is poised to make a good run there, and maybe they’ll see Baylor again when the shots aren’t all falling.

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