Texas Tech Blasts UTSA, 94-64

If Texas Tech can consistently play defense like they did in the first half against UTSA, and offense like they played in the second, the Red Raiders may open some eyes this season.

If Texas Tech can consistently play defense like they did in the first half against UTSA, and offense like they played in the second, the Red Raiders may open some eyes this season.

In the first half the Red Raiders relied on a salty and very active zone defense to absolutely stifle the Roadrunners. Tech held the visitors to just 20 points on 26-percent shooting, and didn't allow UTSA to scratch from three-point range. In the second, Texas Tech scored 57 points while connecting on 62 percent of their shots.

Put it all together and you've got a 94-64 romp over UT-San Antonio.

The win, before a surprisingly (most students were away for the Thanksgiving holiday) large home crowd, is all the more impressive for the fact that Tech didn't start out hot as blue blazes. On the contrary, the Red Raiders were listless and unfocused, while the Roadrunners were boisterous and intense.

In short order Tubby Smith sat his starters and allowed Kader Tapsoba, Aaron Ross, Toddrick Gotcher, Randy Onwuasor and Jamal Williams to show the way. The second unit ratcheted up the defensive intensity and slowly built a five-point lead that the starters eventually expanded to a 17-point halftime bulge. That lead came despite the fact that the Red Raiders were ice cold from three-point range, connecting on only 18 percent of their efforts from downtown.

One first-half highlight came with 7:30 to play when the Red Raiders, for the first time this season, unveiled a truly ferocious man-to-man full court press. Tech laid it on and Jordan Tolbert immediately got a steal and a layup. It was only a glimpse, but it was tantalizing. It looks like Tubby Smith is essentially keeping the pressure under wraps until he really needs to flummox a quality opponent.

The second half was essentially a TKO. The Red Raiders finally began knocking down open jumpers and were hellish on the fast break, to boot. Tech finished with 18 points on the fast break and virtually all of them came in the second half.

Freshman point guard Onwuasor, who finished with 15 points on six-of-seven shooting, was particularly impressive. He has a truly lethal crossover dribble and burst to the hoop in transition. As Onwuasor develops, he may remind some Tech fans of a prolific Red Raider gunner named Cory Carr. There is a real similarity to their games.

As an aside, Jamal Williams is a player who really makes Tech's offense work better against the zone, and it's not because of his shooting. Rather, Williams is a master of the ball fake. When he executes a ball fake, the entire defense bites and falls behind in its rotation. Look for him to get lots of time when the opposition goes into a zone. The Red Raiders have an opportunity to gain some serious respect in their next outing when they travel to Tuscon next Tuesday to take on the No. 4 Arizona Wildcats. The action tips off at 8 p.m. central time.

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