November 20, 2011

Tech continues upward trend

Stephen F. Austin had its moments against the Red Raider basketball squad, but ultimately failed to live up to the hype Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie hyped them up to be.

Or maybe the Lumberjacks just had a bad game. But more likely, the Red Raiders came along and played some good defense against a team that has nine newcomers of its own.

"I think Texas Tech is getting better with every game I see," Lumberjack head coach Danny Kaspar said without being prompted. "There's no doubt in my mind about it. Y'all hired a very good basketball coach. He's had to reload and from watching some exhibitions teams to now I think your defense is better. I think your execution on offense is better.

"We wanted you to hit some outside shots, and you did."

Texas Tech hit six-of-11 3-pointers, but also had some pretty long jump shots early. In fact by the end of the first half, Tech had scored on 14-of-17 shots from the field, including four-of-five from behind the arc.

The Red Raiders jumped out to a 15-5 start at the 13:36 mark and took its lead out to 37-23 by halftime.

Forward Jaye Crockett had a good game as did guard Bean Willis, but the newcomers really shined.

Senior forward Robert Lewandowski was a virtual non-factor so forward Jordan Tolbert had to pick up the slack and did with 12 points including scoring on all five attempts taken.

Lewandowski got two early fouls and only played the first minute and a half of the first half before fouling out at the five-minute mark of the second half. He finished the day with a block and a defensive rebound.

Tech's defense is what won the day though.

The Jacks came in with three shooting guards in double-digit scoring including junior college transfer Antonio Bostic who averaged 19 points in Stephen F. Austin's first two games.

Bostic led the Jacks with 10 points and the team shot just 36 percent on the day.

"We're way ahead of the offense even though our defense isn't anywhere near where I want it to be," Gillispie said. "We had really good defensive possessions today against a team that runs solid offense. It's hard to take the ball away from them. They've got good players, not great, but they've got a great scheme and a guard that can initiate offense. We had some really good defensive possession that actually helped get us out to an early lead."

Tech forced 15 Stephen F. Austin turnovers, 10 in the first half.

Gillispie said defense usually comes along first because players only have to worry about getting in the right position rather than moving with the ball and getting into position on offense.

There were problems in that regard on the offensive side of the court.

Tech, once again, made too many turnovers. In fact, for a second straight game the Red Raiders turned possessions over 20 times.

Willis and Tolbert led the team with five and four turnovers, respectively.

"They played in a 1-3-1 press that we didn't prepare for," Willis said. "It was still my fault. I wasn't thinking. I was being aggressive, but I wasn't being smart. So I'm pretty sure we'll be working on that and just being solid with the ball and executing like our coach wants us to."

Gillispie subsequently admitted the 1-3-1 defense was something the Tech coaching staff wasn't expecting the Jacks to run.

Ty Nurse led all scorers with 14 points, followed by Crockett's 13 points, Tolbert's 12 points and Willis' seven points.

Crockett led Tech in rebounds with five defensive and two offensive boards and as a team the Red Raiders significantly beat the Jacks with 24 rebounds compared to Stephen F. Austin's 14 boards.

Next up for the Red Raiders is Indiana State Thursday in the opening Old Spice Classic in Orlando Fla.

"I'm very proud of their efforts and what they've been able to accomplish so far, but we're not kidding anybody. We know how it's going to be on the road," Gillispie said. "In the tournament we're going to have to fight for every single possession. That's what we talked about after the game. We have to make improvements."

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