After the win on Wednesday against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech (23-5, 11-4 Big 12) stretched its win-streak to six and moved into a first-place tie with Kansas State in the conference. There are three games left on the schedule and ensuring a share of the Big 12 title (pretty much) requires the Red Raiders to win out. That journey begins tomorrow against a banged up TCU team at 3pm.
The Horned Frogs are coming off of a heart-breaking defeat against West Virginia where the Mountaineers just would not let off the gas. TCU had an opportunity to close out the game in regulation, but Desmond Bane lost the ball and West Virginia’s Jordan McCabe rimmed a potential game-winning three. First overtime. TCU held West Virginia well and managed to have the ball again with the closing shot clock but a wild shot from Alex Robinson (that he had no business trying) missed completely. Second overtime. Both teams became markedly more exhausted and - not even joking - TCU had another chance to end it with the final shot clock. JD Miller accidentally stepped out of bounds and gave the ball back to WVU, but Derek Culver missed the basket. Third overtime. TCU didn’t have the stamina and West Virginia outscored them 16-8.
This is their fourth loss in five games, leading to a consensus that TCU must win two of their last three games. With Texas Tech, Kansas State and Texas left on the docket... it can be daunting. Coach Dixon will be looking towards team leaders like Desmond Bane and Alex Robinson to put on an offensive show in Fort Worth. 6’11 freshman Kevin Samuel has also proved valuable around the basket with an average of 7 rebounds per game. The Horned Frogs aren’t a team to be overlooked, as they sit ranked 54th in offensive efficiency and 38 in defensive efficiency according to KenPom. Texas Tech, for reference, is 48th and 1st respectively.
On the other hand Texas Tech is red hot. A six game win streak with a gritty victory against Oklahoma State has this team looking March-ready. Following the result, Coach Beard was named a Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year Late Season candidate. His current overall coaching record of 68-29 in three seasons coupled with the 49-5 record at home has Beard on his own level. Texas Tech was picked to finish 7th in the Big 12 after losing a number of leaders from its Elite Eight team - but here with three games left in conference Texas Tech is tied for first. The Big 12 Coach of the Year is up for grabs with a variety of arguments out there, but if Texas Tech finishes first then it creates a fairly insurmountable argument of why Chris Beard is COTY.
First, Texas Tech must bring the heat to Ft. Worth and play TCU hard until the final buzzer. In March every game matters; the Big 12 tournament followed by the NCAA Tournament is one of the toughest bang-bang gauntlets in college basketball. Look to Culver, Moretti & Mooney to lead the offensive efforts in tomorrow’s match up.
Texas Tech vs TCU by the numbers: