You might be wondering why this site has had a focus on Louisiana Tech this pasty week and that is not without a good reason. The Bulldogs were expected to be much better, Jacobi Boykins is one of the league’s better players, and the program is one of the better supported in this league.
Watching this team closely reveals that yes, there are problems. The defense yields too many easy buckets for too many poor teams and Boykins cannot do everything.
Watching Tech manage to lose against a Jhivvan Jackson-less UTSA team on the road was rough, as UTSA’s freshman is one of the great stories in this league — surpassing former NBA-er Devin Brown for freshman scoring and lighting things up weekly as he amassed Freshman of the Week honors. That was not it, though, as UTSA managed to fight through that absence thanks largely to Louisiana Tech looking listless and out of ideas down the stretch.
It is here that the defensive struggles are evident. While UTSA has been good at home and able to score with anyone at the El Convo, Tech similarly has been unable to stop anyone. Allowing Nick Allen to drive uncontested through the lane is not going to win games late.
Giovanni De Nicolao, a good player mind you, was able to control the game in the final three minutes. He got buckets, but more importantly, he got wherever he wanted on the floor.
Tech was determined to get the ball to Boykins late, and while that is a sound strategy, it seemed forced and not within the flow of the offense. The Bulldogs couldn’t score — a theme all night — and UTSA got easy buckets.
The contrast between the two programs was stark, as UTSA young guys looked energetic and hungry without their best player, and Tech’s looked tired and lost with theirs. It has something to do with expectation, I expect. Going forward, the loss of Jackson likely limits the Runners in the tournament, as the loss of a guy who can get buckets quickly is the kind of thing that kills Cinderella runs.
Still, unlike other teams, UTSA has a handful of guys who like to rain threes and that is how upsets happen.