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February 25, 2014

Smith frustrated by gaffes in 60-56 loss

Think about this rebuilding Texas Tech basketball program as a child. A child that has gained just a little bit of parental trust and a tad of leeway yet also is now mature enough to learn there are consequences for negative actions.

Papa was not happy after the Red Raiders' 60-56 loss against a solid Kansas State team Tuesday in Lubbock.

"Kansas State found a way to win the game," Red Raider head coach Tubby Smith said. "They executed the things they had to do and we didn't. That was obvious. We couldn't make a layup in the second half. We couldn't make the plays we needed to. We got ourselves back into the game and then we'd do something dumb again. But that's life.

"Once again, our second half defense was very poor. That's been a problem for some time now. Questionable shots. Turnovers. Just a lot of things."

The Wildcats (19-9, 9-6) recaptured a lead it lost at the 7:06 mark of the first half on the way to a 12-0 run that ended at the 3:33 mark of the second half. They were aided with a foul by forward Jordan Tolbert that was ruled intentional and cut down a Tech lead of eight points to three points before the ball crossed midcourt again.

The Red Raiders (13-15, 5-10) did show some late moxie in front of a school record-breaking 6,086 students with a 9-0 run and a 56-54 edge with 1:19 to play.

The game was tied a final time when the Wildcats' Wesley Iwundu drove for a layup and drew a foul against Dusty Hannahs. Iwundu made the subsequent free throw for what turned out to be the winning point.

Tech took the ball down court and burned their second-to-last timeout with 40 seconds remaining in the game and 20 seconds left on the shot clock. Smith drew a play.

Jaye Crockett went off the script with a 3-point attempt six seconds after the game resumed and missed.

Iwundu got the rebound. It took the Red Raiders, already working against the double bonus, 15 precious seconds to foul.

Kansas State's Will Spralding made just the front end of the free throws. Crockett got the rebound on the second attempt, but Robert Turner committed his fifth turnover of the night in traffic seconds later to seal Tech's fate.

Papa saw trouble and was trying to step in.

"I didn't see it," Smith said. "I was trying to call a timeout with the ref because I knew it looked bad. Rob was off his game all night long. He was pathetic all night long. You don't go and hug the sideline, and I'm not sure Toddrick Gotcher wanted the ball. We were running a certain play there and we had an extra timeout. I turned to the ref, so I didn't really see. But they told me they must have run into each other."

Iwundu ran a few circles and then scored with .9 seconds left to up the score to its final.

Crockett was so frustrated he took the inbound pass on a bounce and chunked it six rows deep in the vicinity of the north basket. The loss was the Red Raiders' sixth defeat of six points or fewer in Big 12 play.

"We played well, I thought, for 39 minutes," forward Dejan Kravic, who led Tech with 13 points, said. "It was all about 50-50 balls in the end. We didn't get a loose ball. They got it and an and-one. We took a 3-point shot that maybe we shouldn't have taken because we were down one. They got the rebound. That's it, really."

The Red Raiders have been well-received by fans this season because the past two Tech teams combined for four regular season Big 12 wins. Six times this season, a lot of the talk in postgame conference has been about moral victories.

The head coach, facing his first losing season ever, appears to want those days gone. A team that has lost six games by six points or fewer against opponents that used to coast to wins just last season isn't awful.

Smith chuckled when he was asked what positives he could take away from the game.

"It's hard to find, man," he said. "It's really hard. I think our guys worked hard tonight. They're playing tough, being aggressive. I thought we were that way. But we don't seem to be playing very smart. The toughness part, I'm even questioning that. When you miss 12 layups, 12 shots in the paint, and you avoid contact like we did tonight, it tells me something about your lack of toughness. I'm really searching for something positive.

"Rebounding was one. We do a good job of coming back, but when you're behind I guess that's what you do."

Texas Tech NEWS


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