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Nate Night Thoughts: There is a new fan favorite

This walk-on has proven his worth on Coach Beard’s team

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball is always a total team effort and everyone, from your star player to the guy at the end of the bench, makes an impact on the team. Unlike football or baseball, each player on the court has to be effective on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Because of these requirements many coaches limit their rotations to about 7-10 players.

Texas Tech has typically seen the likes of Jarrett Culver, Matt Mooney, Tariq Owens, Davide Moretti, Norense Odiase, Kyler Edwards, Deshawn Corprew, and Brandone Francis in the rotation, but there is a new face to be excited about.

The walk-on guard from Springdale, Arkansas, Avery Benson has provided this team with high-energy minutes over the past few games. Benson has yet to flash any scoring capabilities, but he is slowly becoming one of my favorite players. His tenacity on the defensive side of the ball is outstanding and nobody out-hustles Benson while he is on the court. He has made 12 appearances for the Red Raiders this year, but starting with the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks, many fans took notice of his play when he laid his body on the line for a loose ball late in the second half. That play lifted up the Tech bench and the crowd when the Red Raiders needed it the most.

On Monday against West Virginia, Benson came into the game in the second half and recorded 3 steals in 11 minutes. Just when teams think they are getting a break when guys like Culver or Mooney sub out, they are a bit surprised to see the walk-on spark a fire with his energy.

For this Texas Tech team, Benson reminds me of a younger Patty Mills from the San Antonio Spurs. Early in Patty’s career he was a spark off of the bench by drawing charges and playing sound defense while only seeing limited action. Like Patty, Benson has played fantastic defense no matter what the score is when he checks into the game. He has accepted his role on the team and found a way to make an impact in any way he can. Effort and energy go a long way in basketball and if Benson keeps up his defensive play he can win over the fans in Raiderland.