No. 25 Texas Tech faces Alabama State ahead of Big 12 play

NCAA

Texas Tech closes out its nonconference schedule Tuesday afternoon against another opponent that will do little to tilt the RPI and strength-of-schedule scales.

Alabama State provides the opposition at Lubbock, Texas, as the No. 25 Red Raiders (9-2) get their final test before opening Big 12 Conference play on New Year’s Day at home against Oklahoma State.

For the Texas Tech coaches, the task is simple: Get one more look at personnel to hone in on a rotation, especially with the status of junior Terrance Shannon in limbo as he works through some back-spasm issues. Shannon has missed the past two games.

Likewise, for the Red Raider players, another tune-up against an overmatched opponent — following a 78-46 win over Eastern Washington on Dec. 22 — offers a chance to bolster confidence that was bruised Dec. 18 in a 69-55 loss to Gonzaga.

The Red Raiders turned in one of their most efficient halves of the season against Eastern Washington shooting a blistering 70.8 percent from the floor (17 of 24) before halftime, bolstered by 6-of-11 accuracy from 3-point range.

The Texas Tech lead was 50-27 lead by halftime, but first-year Red Raiders coach Mark Adams said his team’s execution was a necessity because of how feisty Eastern Washington proved to be. The Eagles had led 13-12 after the game’s first 5:13.

Balance was a hallmark for Texas Tech, as six players provided between eight and 12 points. Bryson Williams and Adonis Arms led with 12 apiece, while Kevin Obanor scored 11 and led the Raiders with seven rebounds.

“The score isn’t really indicative of the game,” Adams said. “That first 10-12 minutes was a dog fight. Give Eastern Washington a lot of credit; they’re going to win a lot of games.”

Whether Alabama State wins much this season is yet to be determined, but the Hornets (1-10) have struggled to find success in that regard so far and rank down around 300 in the RPI rankings.

Their last outing was a 68-48 loss at Texas on Dec. 22 in a game that was the result of both teams shuffling their schedules when other opponents were knocked out by COVID-19 problems.

Alabama State pushed Texas in the first half – leading 13-2 in the opening minutes, led by former Longhorn Gerald Liddell’s seven early points — and trailed only 29-25 at the intermission.

But Texas outscored the Hornets 39-23 in the second half to pull away.

Liddell led Alabama State with 16 points and Juan Reyna added 10.

Turnovers were a major issue for the Hornets: They gave the ball away 20 times, leading to 15 Texas points.

“We wanted to force them to play from the outside,” Alabama State head coach Trey Johnson said, although the Longhorns held a 32-12 advantage in the paint. “We felt like size-wise we matched up with them pretty good and we wanted to force them to play from the perimeter and play over the top of us.”

–Field Level Media

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