Gray, Beard give their thoughts on the Baylor game, OSU, and Evans' injury
The Red Raiders may have fallen just short to Baylor in Waco on Saturday night, but they're ready to roll on to Stillwater as the Big 12 regular season schedule comes down to the home stretch.
With that, Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard and senior wing Justin Gray met with members of the local media on Monday afternoon to discuss how things are going leading into the Oklahoma Sate game on Wednesday night.
Gray took a few minutes to reminisce on how things went down against Baylor in the 59-57 loss, noting that he was thrilled with their defensive effort, despite some of the misfirings with turnovers on offense.
"I felt like we played great. We played well enough to win. We got good turnovers, were scoring off those turnovers. But, we had a lot of turnovers ourselves, which cost us in the end. Overall, our defensive gameplan got executed. Great inside defense from Norense and myself, and then great rotation from the guard spots. I think I really liked our defense that game."
Speaking of that offense, the Red Raiders couldn't find a bucket late to win their eighth consecutive contest with Keenan Evans on the bench. Gray felt things sputtered in the end because the motion offense bogged down while the team failed to be aggressive with a fouling advantage.
"In the last two minutes, I felt like we got a little stagnant. We weren't attacking even though we were in the double bonus. Those are some of the things we were looking at from the film yesterday and the day before. Just learning from those and looking to improve on that in future games."
His coach shared some thoughts on the game against the Bears as well.
"After watching the film, we played really hard. It was one of our best efforts," said Coach Beard. "Guys were competing, effort wasn't a problem. Guys really wanted to win. We were trying as hard as we could. I think in the rebound totals that showed. It was just a Big 12 one possession game. We had a chance late, but just didn't have great offensive execution late. Baylor made some really good switches and contested shots, so I think you've got to give them a lot of credit."
Beard also made note of Gray's performance in the contest, as he finished the game with 13 points, going 4-5 shooting from the floor while also pulling in eight rebounds.
"Warrior. One of the best games I've seen Justin play. On defense he was battling. He was getting loose balls, making things happen. He was switching, guarded all five positions in the 40 minute game. Then, on offense, he was aggressive. Big play at the end of the first half to make the deficit manageable. I thought he played about as well as I've ever seen Justin Gray play."
But, Gray and the team have already moved on to prep for Oklahoma State, and the senior from Florida noted that the Cowboys have been fantastic in the transition and are getting some great effort on the glass from their forwards.
"They push hard in transition. like to score quick. They're a great offensive rebounding team, so it's going to be kind of the same story as what we got versus Baylor, who we just played, with McGriff crashing and Carroll crashing from the wing, so we're going to have to do a really good job with that."
And the big question on the table headed towards the OSU game on Wednesday is about Keenan Evans' health. Will the senior be able to make a go of things? Beard shared his insight.
"The issue is with his foot. It's going to come down a lot to just pain tolerance and can he move. We all know Keenan is a warrior, and he's going to do everything he possibly can to play. I have nothing but confidence in that, but at the end of the day, it's just kind of how he reacts to his body. Really, if there's such a thing as day to day, we're in that situation. Literally, a couple of times a day he tries to go on it just to see how it feels, and eventually we've got to get him to a point where he's comfortable enough to play in pain."
The head man gave an update as to where things are at with senior forward Zach Smith's health as well.
"Nothing has changed, just an X-ray this week. He has been able to take his boot off some and shoot stationary shots, doing a little conditioning just in case we get fortunate here and he has a chance to help the team down the stretch. He wants to stay in shape, and he's been able to get on the exercise bikes and treadmills and things like that that don't put pressure on his foot. We're just continuing to see how it heals and how quickly it does."
As for a game plan, Beard was asked how the team might prepare to play without Keenan Evans, something he shrugged off.
"I just don't think like that. I think Keenan Evans will play Wednesday if he possibly can. So, we'll prepare the team like we always do, whether any individual plays or not. We have a team game plan. We never have an individual game plan. We'll see what happens, but Keenan's a warrior."