January 26, 2012

Tolbert steps up, others don't

Freshman forward Toddrick Gotcher stepped up Wednesday with 18 points and eight rebounds in Texas Tech's 69-47 loss against No. 22 Kansas State in Lubbock as did guard Kevin Wagner with 16 points and four assists.

But fellow starters Robert Lewandowski, Deshon Minnis and Bean Willis went a combined zero-of-nine from the field for no points combined while the bench chipped in just 13 points.

As the Red Raiders fell to 7-12 on the season and 0-7 in Big 12 Conference play, it became clear there are no consistent players on head coach Billy Gillispie's team. Unless a couple of players play consistently very soon it's going to be a very, very long season.

"It's tough," Gillispie said. "We had three starters that put up goose eggs. That's been kind of a common occurrence so you're searching. Lew scores 20 on Saturday and gets a goose egg tonight. You have to have more consistency. Jordan didn't play great Saturday and played very good tonight, didn't get enough shots.

"It's very, very difficult. You need to get to the point where you know exactly what you're going to get. Where you can pencil in 14 (points) and six (rebounds) from Jordan. Anything more is a bonus."

As a team, Tech shot just 15-of-40 from the field, but Tolbert had his best game of his career considering the upgrade in competition since his five 20-point games back in non-conference.

"Kevin Wagner played really good tonight and got me the ball and I just finished," Tolbert said after the game.

Maybe Tolbert is on the brink of stepping up consistently. He would need more shots though to become the most valuable player on the Red Raider roster on an ordinary night.

One of the bigger problems in the loss was Tolbert's teammates couldn't feed him the ball enough down low. The Red Raiders turned the ball over 25 times in Wednesday's loss compared to just nine total assists.

Kansas State scored 27 points off the turnovers.

Gillispie thought Wagner played pretty well, despite committing five of those turnovers, but the guards didn't do their jobs of feeding the posts the ball for the higher percentage shots underneath the basket.

"They're trying hard," Gillispie said. "Kevin got 16 points and he did some good things, but it took 16 shots to get them. I'm not being critical of Kevin because he mostly took what the defense gave him, but he got 16 shots and Jordan got eight (shots). That's not good. I don't mind him taking 16 shots because I don't think he took any bad shots, but if he took 16 shots Jordan needs to take 48 shots.

"It needs to be about one-to-three for any of our guards. We want to shoot it when we're open, but eight shots for Jordan when he's six-for-eight -- We'll definitely welcome anyone that makes 16 points, but if it takes 16 shots to get them it's probably not going to be a great result."

Aside from Tolbert and Wagner, scoring only came from forward Jaye Crockett and guard Luke Adams had four points on a four-point play.

"Just too many errors," Gillispie said after commending the Red Raiders on a solid performance from an effort standpoint. "To many errors you can't have against a good team, errors that we just keep on repeating. Just giving the ball away. That's the story of the game.

"I thought we fought hard. I thought we fought physically for the most part. I was proud of their efforts."

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