Texas Tech sophomore guard and Little Rock native Dusty Hannahs will battle some familiar faces as the Red Raiders take on Central Arkansas today at 1 p.m.
“Jalen Jackson was an AAU teammate,” Hannahs said. “David Barete, Shaun Rice, a lot of familiar names that played around the city of Little Rock. It’ll just be cool to see some old teammates, you know, I spent a lot of times with them … It’ll be cool to see them and say ‘What’s up,’ but at the end of the day, I’m coming after them and we are going to get this win.”
Hannahs averaged double digit points after a 14-point outing against Northern Arizona (10.5), a 19-point outing against Texas Southern (11.25) and a 12-point outing against South Dakota State (11.4).
Since then, he has scored a combined 11 points in four games.
“I’ve just been staying in the gym, doing the same stuff but just a little bit harder,” he said. “I hadn’t been shooting the ball as of late and playing well. My team needs way more of me. I’ve just been on a three-game slide. Once I pick that up, I’ll try to not look back and never have to go through this again.”
It isn’t just Hannahs who has struggled shooting as of late; Tech as a whole made only 32 percent of their shots in the first half at Arizona earlier this month.
Since then, head coach Tubby Smith has had more than a week to improve the Red Raiders’ shooting.
“We’ve been shooting a lot, trying to work on just their mechanics and fundamentals,” Smith said. “I think when you start missing shots, it usually goes back to a breakdown in mechanics and fundamentals. We’ve talked about trying to get the shot off quickly, not dipping the ball, shot preparation and being ready to shoot the ball when you catch it.”
Tech has three averaging in double figures — senior forward Jaye Crockett with 14.1 points, junior forward Jordan Tolbert with 12.6 and junior point guard Robert Turner with 10.7.
For the Bears, freshman forward Jalen Jackson leads his team with 14.3 points per game and leads the Southland Conference in three-point percentage at .519 percent.
Senior guard DeShone McClure is also averaging in double digits with 13 points per game.
Of the 14 Bears on the roster, seven are shooting .345 percent or better from behind the arc.
Overall, Central Arkansas is 53-of-139, .381 percent, from downtown.
“We’ve really had some trouble doing that,” Smith said of Tech’s perimeter defense. “We’ve just got to get Dusty, Jaye, Rob and everybody who comes in the game who plays on the perimeter. A lot of it is more than just them. It’s our post players being ready to help, being ready to switch out, being ready to hedge out and help on cutters when they’re open. We had a real breakdown in that area. Every day we do drills to improve in that area. We’ll see how we do against Central Arkansas.”
Another area of disappointment for the Red Raiders after the loss to now No. 1 Arizona a week ago was the number of boards they pulled down — 23 to the Wildcats’ 43.
“Every practice we do two-on-two boxing out drill,” Tolbert said. “Coach is really stressing it, and we’ve taken it upon ourselves as teammates to go harder at each other and get more rebounds.”
Tech will have the height advantage in this game, especially down low as Central Arkansas is expected to start a pair of 6-foot-7 forwards in freshman Phabian Glasco and junior Jeff Drew.
If Smith decides to go with his usual lineup, 6-foot-7 Tolbert will be on one while 7-foot Dejan Kravic will defend the other.
On the perimeter, the Bears’ guards measure up at 6-foot-3, 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4.
Turner and Hannahs are 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4, respectively, while Crockett at 6-foot-7 will have the opportunity to post his man up.
“If we can get the ball inside to people like Jordan and Jaye,” Smith said, “We’re much more effective.”
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Side by side
Texas Tech Central Arkansas
73.0 Scoring 71.5
68.1 Opponent Scoring 82.0
.485 Field Goal Pct. .417
.309 3-Point Pct. .381
.711 Free Throw Pct. .625
34.1 Rebounds 34.3
12.0 Assists 12.0
11.4 Turnovers 17.2
6.1 Steals 9.8
4.6 Blocks 3.8