Texas Tech Grinds Out Gutty Win Over Oklahoma State

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 23: Jarrett Culver
LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 23: Jarrett Culver /

After a sluggish start resulting in a double-digit second half deficit, the Texas Tech basketball team put an end to its two-game losing streak by knocking off Oklahoma State 75-70 Tuesday night in Lubbock.

It was all slipping away from Chris Beard and his Texas Tech basketball team.  Riding a two-game skid that dropped the Red Raiders out of the top-10 in the national polls and put the team’s once bright Big 12 title hopes on life support, Texas Tech looked lifeless and dead in the water again at home against Oklahoma State on Tuesday night.

The Cowboys had dominated the game since the middle of the first half, building as much as a 15-point lead.  And through the first six minutes of the second half, it seemed Texas Tech did not have the stomach for the fight.

But down 50-38 with just 13:37 to play, the Red Raiders finally dug their heels in and got back to playing the kind of basketball that they’ve become known for.

Over the next 2:57 of the game, Texas Tech held Oklahoma State scoreless while cutting the deficit to just six points.  And the difference came not in the form of long-range three-point shots (although the threes did eventually start to fall) or high flying dunks.  Rather, the turnaround was born of floor burns, tough rebounds and a renewed commitment to defensive excellence.

Of course, the stars of the box score will be point guard Keenan Evans who shook out of a recent slump to score a game-high 26 points and freshman Jarret Culver who set a career-best with 25 points. And in fairness, Texas Tech would not have won without Culver’s clutch shooting down the stretch (he scored ten points in the final 10 minutes of the game including two huge three-point shots) and Evans’ steady hand which nailed 7-8 free throws to ice the game in the final two minutes.

But what saved this game for the Red Raiders were the hustle plays.  Perhaps the team was inspired by another raucous crowd at United Supermarkets Arena or maybe the desperation of a season quickly slipping away finally hit home.  But for whatever reason, the dogged determination and gritty physical type of basketball Chris Beard demands of his players finally showed up after a two-and-a-half game absence.

Forward Norsene Odiase shook off an uninspiring offensive performance that saw him go scoreless on the night to impact the game by blocking shots and hurling his 6-foot-8, 245-pound body after lose balls with no regard for who might be in the way.

Likewise, Culver collected almost as many floor burns as he had points.  Meanwhile, Brandone Francis and Niem Stevenson played lock-down perimeter defense contesting almost every OSU three-pointer while helping limit the Pokes to just 20 points in the final 13:37 of the game.

"“I thought that tonight our guys showed a lot of grit.  You know, down 10 in the second half and gave us a chance to come back.” Beard said in his postgame press conference."

On most nights, Big 12 basketball often looks more like a street brawl than and artistic expression of athleticism.  So if a team is going to emerge victorious, it is going to have to get bruised, battered and bloodied.  There is no other way.

Hopefully, Tuesday night’s gut-check win was exactly what the Texas Tech basketball team needed; a reminder that every game is an all-out battle and victory cannot be gained by talent alone but through the grit and determination possessed only by “Fearless Champions”.