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December 15, 2013

Tech takes care of UCA

Tubby Smith's seventh win as Texas Tech's head coach, a 79-57 with against Central Arkansas, was brutal to watch at times.

The Red Raiders sputtered through the first 10 minutes of Sunday's home game, missing easy shot after easy shot against a two-win team. Smith rotated the entire starting lineup twice.

Then the coach opted for Luke Adams to run the point.

That's when the game swung for Tech. Adams' passing began to open things up, he helped the Red Raiders out to a critical 7-3 run which gave the squad a 19-18 lead on a Toddrick Gotcher 3-point shot in the 12th minute of the game.

"Luke was a key," Smith said. "He came in and gave us some energy. He dove on the ball. He got the loose balls. He pushed the ball up the court, found people open. He was willing and looking to pass the ball."

The teams traded leads for the next two minutes. Then Tech began to pull away.

Adams finished the game with one assist and two steals in seven minutes.

Tech (7-3) missed its first five shots from the field yet still shot 52 percent in the first frame. The squad ultimately crushed Central Arkansas down low, 40 points in the paint to the Bears' 18 points to the chagrin of the opposing head coach.

"We came out and we changed up our defense," Central Arkansas coach Clarence Finley said. "We were going to man, going to zone, mixing up the zone, tried to put up a little three-quarter trap to slow them down and keep the shot clock going.

"I thought it gave them a problem, but once they got adjusted to it and we went back man it was just a little too strong for us inside."

Tech's big men did some major damage.

Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert each scored 10 points.

Dejan Kravic led the team with 13 points thanks to his personal 6-0 run and two blocks just after the Bears scored the first eight points of the second half and cut the Red Raider's lead to 39-34.

"I just tried to bring energy when I came in," Kravic said. "Along with Toddrick, Jamal Williams Jr., all of them, we just wanted to bring energy."

The real success story was Gotcher. He shot four-of-five, including two made 3-pointers in addition to five assists and no turnovers.

The redshirt sophomore had 23 assists last season.

"He just has great character," Smith said. "A man of character. He comes every day ready to play. He's a pretty quiet, humble kid, but he's getting the job done and certainly going to find a way into our lineup the way he's playing there."

The Red Raiders' size also allowed them to beat Central Arkansas (2-5) on the glass for 11 more rebounds.

Once again, Tech defeated a team it should. The road gets harder.

LSU (6-2) will visit Lubbock on Wednesday evening in the lone premiere home non-conference game.

"I really haven't had a chance to watch them much," Smith said. "(Head coach) Johnny Jones is a good friend and I know he's done a fantastic job. They're off to an excellent start this year. But I really can't speak about them much because I had to focus on this game. There are a lot of things we need to improve on, and we better improve on those areas between now and Wednesday or it's going to be a long night."

Smith then graded the team through 10 games.

"I would give us a B-, C+, somewhere along those lines," Tech's head said. "We've got to get a lot better. What concerns me is just the slippage some times when you have to keep reminding guys over and over again to rebound with two hands. The things you would think are basic and fundamental. Run the floor every time. Hit the open man.

"Once you start the game, some of those basic fundamentals -- That's the slippage part that concerns me. Their retention of that."


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