Yes, well and truly UTEP beat Louisiana Tech. The Dogs are nothing like the team we expectec coming into this season and it is way past time we accepted it. I write this knowing fully that Tech will now go on a league tourney run that will make everyone question what they know.
UTEP’s Omega Harris — fittingly perhaps — closed out his home career with a career night. It was the freshman Evan Gilyard who shined. In the final three minutes he earned a charge, got the tying bucket, and then put the shot up that was tipped in for the win.
Meanwhile, Jacobi Boykins forced an ugly shot from the top of the key on the second-to-last possession for the Bulldogs that lasted long enough to deserve a better look.
That was not quite the game in a nutshell, but it was indidcative of how the worst team — UTEP — executed better than what is supposed to be the better team — Tech.
Boykins has not been the problem for Tech, as he is having nearly the exact same season statistically as last year’s 20-win team. Seriously, it is eery how similar his numbers look.
Conference PPG? Last year 15.1. This year 15.0. Last year TS% .623. This year .622.
The roster is younger, and the youth shows mostly on defense as Tech dropped from being the third best defensive team (by Defensive Rating) to eigth. Last year Middle was the only clear dominant team with a net rating of over 10+ (16.13) and Tech coming in second at 8+.
This season ODU and WKU both join Middle as 15+ net rating squads while Tech is 6th at 3.44.
So even though Tech looked bad in the last three minutes on offense with a missed free throw and some strange possessions, the more concerning part is how easily Gilyard and UTEP were able to score.
Tournament time brings a new set of circumstances — no travel, no routine, and an unusual intensity that may shake up Tech and bring about a different attitude.
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