Keenan Evans Out-Plays Media Darling Trae Young In Texas Tech Win

LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 13: Keenan Evans
LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 13: Keenan Evans /

Before a national television audience Keenan Evans scored 26 points to lead Texas Tech to an 88-78 win and in the process he furthered his case for being the top player in the Big 12.

In a matchup that featured the Big 12’s best point guard Keenan Evans facing off with the media’s favorite son, Trae Young, the Texas Tech star showed why he is the best player in the conference.

The senior guard pumped in 26 points on 9-15 shooting including 17 big second-half points to help the Red Raiders rally from a one-point halftime deficit.  Evans recent fantastic play has not coincidentally spurred his team to a 7-game winning streak that has the Red Raiders in first place in the conference standings.

"“Yeah, he did what best players, seniors, all-conference guys are supposed to do…In some big possessions where we had to have a basket, he went and found a way.”  Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said.  “Let’s don’t ever take Keenan Evans for granted. I wish I could coach him the rest of my career.”"

During the current winning streak, Evans has averaged 24.5 points per game.  Five times during that span he has scored at least 26 points.

Meanwhile, the point guard on the other bench struggled mightily in his return to the town in which he was born.  Oklahoma freshman Trae Young did score 19 points on the night but that is far below the 30 points per game he has averaged this season.

To assess any of Young’s performances accurately, it is important to focus not on the points but one two more important statistics; field goal percentage and assists.  Young is given free range by his coaching staff to shoot from virtually any point on the floor and that is exactly what he does.

In a style of play that often reminds one of the old arcade game NBA Jam, in which players often hit shots from half-court, especially when they were “on fire”, Young launches shots with almost no regard for game situations.  That means he will almost always get his points.  The key is to make him take a ton of shots to get those points.

On Tuesday night, the Red Raider defense (led by Jarrett Culver, Niem Stevenson, Brandone Francis and Evans, who all took turns checking Young) forced him into a 4-16 (25%) shooting performance.  The media darling was 0-9 from three and scored the majority of his points at the free throw line where he was 11-11.  It is worth noting that his 11 foul shots were five more than any other player in the game, on either team.

As for assists, Tech held Young below his season average there as well.  He totaled seven, most of which came in the game’s first half, three below what he has averaged on the season.

Also, when judging point guards, it is important to look at the turnover numbers.  Evans was guilty of just one turnover in 34 minutes of action.  For comparison sake, the other team’s point guard committed six in 39 minutes.

And of course, the Texas Tech student section let him know what they thought about his performance.

Meanwhile, Evans was once again the star of the night.  He shot 9-15 (60%) from the field and four of seven from three.  His thee-pointer with with 5:59 to play gave Texas Tech the lead for good at 69-66.  And his dunk with 1:20 left to play sealed the win and put a punctuation on yet another stellar performance.

Next: Texas Tech A No. 3 Seed in First NCAA Basketball Bracket

Ultimately, the importance of the game is that the Texas Tech basketball team moved to 10-3 in the Big 12 and remain alone in first place.  However, seeing Keenan Evans outplay the game’s anointed one on the network that has made Trae Young worship a cottage industry was more than satisfying to Red Raider fans.  It was confirmation of what people in Lubbock have been saying all season, Keenan Evans is as good ay any player in the nation.