For those that missed it on Tuesday night, Texas Tech suffered a heartbreaking loss to Nebraska. After the Red Raiders played flawless defense on the final possession of the game, a rebound on a Marcus Perry missed 3-pointer headed for the sideline. Tech’s Charlie Burgess leapt out of bounds for it, attempted to call timeout in mid-air, realized that doesn’t work any more and then saved the ball in bounds.
Actually, he didn’t save it – replays showed he planted a foot out of bounds before releasing the ball – but play continued and Nebraska’s Charles Richardson grabbed the ball and after a dribble, drained a 20-footer to beat the buzzer and give the Huskers a 61-59 win.
Now I’ve always heard you don’t save the ball blindly onto your own end of the court, and I’ve always disagreed with it. The choice is to eat the ball and let Nebraska inbound it, or essentially inbound it yourself, if awkwardly, and have a decent chance of a teammate securing possession. And even if the opponent gets it, what’s their chance of scoring? In retrospect, it would have been nice for him not to save it. But if you do some back-of-the-napkin calculations, I think you’ll come to the conclusion that unless you’re feeding the opponent into a lay-up, it’s better from a percentage standpoint to try and save it.
Of course, as Bob Knight pointed out, it would have been best to something else.
As I look back, it would have been great if [Burgess] had just gotten it and thrown it up in the air, and then the game is over.
I also had to reprint this comment from Nebraska coach Doc Sadler, who briefly gives us the truth.
The last play was just luck. But we stuck in there to have a chance. That’s not luck. That’s just a team playing hard.
It was luck, yet it wasn’t. How deep.
On a Texas Tech-related matter, I had totally forgotten about my original Game Plan post where I posited that we should see what happens in the January 31 game where Texas visited Texas Tech. As it turned out, the game went according to Game Plan form. Texas didn’t turn the ball over, had a nice offensive night, and won by more than the “experts” thought. It was only one game, and I’m not going to say that’s the basis for elevating Game Plan to some sort of amazing predictive tool, but it was nice to look back and see that things worked out.
On an unrelated matter, I’d like to rescind yesterday’s pick for game of the weekend and switch it to Florida/Kentucky. I don’t talk about the SEC enough, but I just wrapped up the stats package I prepared for ESPN, and let’s just say there is a high probability of an upset. (I guess if the probability gets too high, it’s not an upset anymore, but it’s not that high.)
Kentucky at home is not too much worse than Florida on the road, and Florida’s 3-point shooting has been at unsustainable levels recently even with all the wide-open looks they get. Kentucky’s D encourages the 3, and has the size in the backcourt to close out on the shooters better than other SEC clubs. So I’m expecting a defensive struggle in this one. It should be a close game, but for the opposite reason that Arizona/Oregon should be.