No. 11 Texas Tech rolling, but won't look past Oklahoma State
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Destiny in its control and a head of steam in place, red-hot 11th-ranked Texas Tech begins the two-week homestretch of the regular season when it plays host to Oklahoma State at Wednesday night.
The Red Raiders (22-5, 10-4 Big 12) are playing about as well as any team in the country and are seeking history.
Texas Tech has never won a Big 12 championship, which is in realistic range. A victory Wednesday would pull the Raiders even with current leader Kansas State, which tumbled to Kansas on Monday night.
The last time the Red Raiders claimed a league crown was the 1995-96 swan song of the Southwest Conference, when they went 14-0.
All that ancient history means little now, but what does is how well Texas Tech is clicking with stakes so high.
During a timely five-game winning streak, the Raiders have won four games by at least 25 points, including a 78-50 rout over the Cowboys (10-17, 3-11) on Feb. 13 in Stillwater.
But OSU, playing with only seven scholarship players after three were dismissed earlier this season, has Texas Tech coach Chris Beard's attention.
"They've had their share of adversity this year, in terms of roster movement and changes, but they've stayed very, very competitive for the most part," Beard said. "They've got several players on their team that, in my opinion, are all-conference worthy. We'll have to play well (Wednesday) night. As you always have to in the Big 12."
The Cowboys have had an occasional flash of promise in conference play, with wins over Texas and TCU, the latter on Feb. 18. But they are coming of an 85-46 loss at Kansas State on Saturday, the Cowboys' second-worst setback since 1933.
"K-State dominated us for 40 minutes, and we never had a response," Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. "I don't have enough time to say all the things we could've done better."
As short-handed as the Cowboys are, though, they have two of the Big 12's most experienced and dangerous scoring threats in Cameron McGriff and Lindy Waters, who average 12.5 and 11.6 points per game, respectively. Thomas Dziagwa gives OSU a reliable 3-point threat at 44.2 percent.
"I love their guard play," Beard said. "I think they have two of the best shooters in the Big 12 on the perimeter.
"McGriff is one of my all-time favorite Big 12 players. McGriff is an all-conference worthy guy. Scores the ball, rebounds the ball. One of the top two or three offensive rebounders in our conference."
The problem for Oklahoma State is that Texas Tech boasts a slew of talent as well.
Sophomore Jarrett Culver is in the discussion for Big 12 Player of the Year and enters the game leading the Red Raiders in scoring (18 points per game), rebounds (6.1) and assists (3.7). He was named the conference Player of the Week after torching Kansas for 26 points in Saturday's 91-62 rout.
Culver had plenty of help against the Jayhawks. Texas Tech cranked in a season-high 16 3-pointers in 26 attempts (61.5 percent). Four players connected on three treys, with Matt Mooney, Davide Moretti and Brandone Francis joining Culver.
Beard acknowledged after the blowout win that his team played an almost flawless game, and the torrid shooting was a major piece to that equation.
"Making shots is just a part of basketball," Beard said. "On nights that the ball goes in, the game can be a little bit easier. But good teams find a way to win even on the nights when the shots not going in. I think lately, our players are playing with a lot of confidence."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 26, 2019