On Sunday afternoon, 14th ranked Texas Tech men’s basketball lost to the 17th ranked Houston Cougars 64-53 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, TX.
This was the Red Raiders first neutral site game of the season, as well as their first top-25 matchup.
“Losses hurt really bad around here . . . we put it on the line every night we play,” head coach Chris Beard said. “We prepare like it’s a championship game, so when you come it short, it hurts.”
Tech went down 6-2 early, making it their first instance of trailing in a game all season. The Red Raiders committed three early turnovers in the first five minutes of the game that grew their deficit to 14-5.
The Red Raiders continued to struggle against the Cougar defense, which forced Tech into an early six-minute-long scoring drought.
Tech was reenergized by freshman guard Micah Peavy, who scored six points in the first eight minutes of the game. The effort on offense caused a favorable Tech crowd in Fort Worth to erupt.
As the half went on, Tech continued to struggle on offense and the Cougars kept making three-point shots. With eight minutes until halftime, Tech had committed nine turnovers while only scoring nine points.
Houston went on an 11-0 run with still over eight minutes until halftime.
Tech was able to chip away at the lead some after that run, but turnovers continued to drain the offensive production.
At halftime, Houston had a dominating lead of 37-19. Tech had committed 12 turnovers already by halftime.
“When you’re playing from behind, it changes the approach offensively with young players or inexperienced players,” Beard said. “Hopefully we’ll get to the point where we come down the floor with the ball and we play Texas Tech basketball regardless of what that scoreboard says.”
As a team, the Red Raider shot 33.3 percent on all field goals, 22.2 percent on three-point attempts and 37.5 percent on free throws. Tech’s leading scorer at halftime was Peavy with six points.
On the other end of the floor, Houston was scoring with ease. The Cougars had made five three-pointers in just 14 attempts by halftime. Sophomore guard Marcus Sasser led all scorers with 10 points in the first half.
Tech’s offense got off to the second half with a much better offensive performance compared to the first half. They made four of their first five shots coming out of halftime.
Even with Tech’s quick start, Houston continued to make shots and Tech continued to commit turnovers.
Tech went on another scoring drought near the ten-minute mark of the second half, this one nearing three minutes.
Redshirt freshman forward Tyreek Smith gave the Red Raiders a bit of a boost when he checked into the game around the nine-and-a-half-minute mark. He played great defense downlow, only logging one block on the game, but affecting multiple shots.
Tech went on a 9-0 run from the ten-minute mark to give the team some energy, cutting the Houston lead to just 11.
The Red Raiders continued to attack the basket and draw fouls, helping cut the deficit with free throws.
Tech brought the game back within six points with about under minutes left in the game.
“Whenever you get punched in the mouth, you can sit around and make excuses or feel sorry for yourself or you can get up and go back to work,” Beard said on the comeback after the game.
Unfortunately for them, Tech continued to enter stretches where they could not get a field goal to go down. That in the addition Houston’s dominant performance on the glass late in the game eventually led to a 64-53 loss for the Red Raiders.
Sasser led all scorers with 17 points, nine of them coming from deep. McClung led the Red Raiders with 16 points, 10 of them coming from the free-throw line.
Houston had a plus-five advantage on the rebounds over the course of the game, including finishing with 13 offensive rebounds.
Tech struggled from the free throw line, shooting just 54 percent on the night. They improved dramatically in the second half, making 10 of their 16 free-throws, but it was too little too late.
The Red Raiders also did not do themselves any favors, committing 18 over the course of the game which Houston converted to 21 points.
“Every player did some good things . . . but every player did some mistakes that we just can’t overcome against a team as good as Houston,” Beard said on his team’s performance after the game.
Beard also showed tremendous gratitude towards the favorable Texas Tech crowd that came to Forth Worth for the game.
“I apologize as the head coach that we didn’t play better, but we had a lot of faithful, loyal Red Raiders come out to Fort Worth tonight . . . it felt good in there, almost normal at times.
“I just wanna personally thank everybody that came out tonight and watched the game . . . we’re really appreciative of the attendance tonight.
“I don’t think you’ll find another game in college basketball tonight where a team like Texas Tech could play in a neutral site like a Dallas and we basically had a home game tonight.”
The Red Raiders return to Metroplex on December 12when they play Texas A&M – Corpus Christi in Frisco.
The next game for Tech is against St. John’s in the Big East/Big 12 Battle on December 3 in United Supermarkets Arena.