Texas Tech Defense Ready For Lamar
Nov. 30, 2012
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Texas Tech knows its most valuable weapon on the court is its ability to turn its pestering defense into a great offense.
Its worked so far and Tech doesn't plan to back away from that notion when the Lady Raiders clash with Lamar at 1 p.m. CT Saturday at United Spirit Arena - the first of two games inside the USA.
The Tech men's basketball team will take on No. 9 Arizona at 7 p.m. CT.
Tech (5-1) forced 77 turnovers last weekend in its three-game sweep at the Basketball Travelers Tournament, including 45 steals. That defensive pressure allowed the Lady Raiders to jump ahead or go on long runs in each of the three contests, adding up to 96 points off turnovers.
"That's just how we play," senior guard Casey Morris said. "When we can create turnovers and get our offense running, it makes us a better team. We just have to stay focused this week and not think about the success we already had last weekend.
Lamar (5-1) also has enjoyed somewhat of the same success on the court in its last two games. The Cardinals won their last five after falling to then-No. 1 Baylor in its opener and hit better than 41 percent (51 of 123) in its previous two games against Louisiana-Monroe and Our Lady of the Lake.
Senior guard Kalis Loyd leads the team with 18.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
But like Tech, Lamar has also relied on its defense. The Cardinals rank sixth in NCAA Division I in steals, averaging more than 14 per game - equal to Texas Tech.
The biggest difference -- Lamar's own turnovers. The Cardinals rank 201st with 18.2 turnovers per game and have had more than 20 in a game in two of their last three games.
"They're another team, like Nicholls, that has a chance to compete for a (Southland) Conference championship," Tech head coach Kristy Curry said. "Kalis Loyd is as talented as anybody that we'll play. So we know that if we turn the ball over and give up easy baskets, it's going to be a long day for us."
But no Big 12 Conference team is perhaps playing better defense than the Lady Raiders right now. Tech leads the conference in steals (85) and in turnover margin (+9.8), which is the sixth best turnover margin out of 343 NCAA Division I teams.
The solid defensive play may be one of the biggest reasons for Tech's offensive resurgence, shooting more threes and making more shots overall in the last two games. The Lady Raiders hit 56.4 percent from the field (31 of 55) against Nicholls - their highest shooting percentage in two years.
"We try not to focus on anything else other than just trust your shot. Make the next shot," Curry said. "I love the shots we're getting. I love how our kids are working with and without the basketball. If you keep getting looks at high-percentage shots, they're going to start to fall."