Texas Tech Must Avoid Trap Game Against Oklahoma State

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 23: Norense Odiase
LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 23: Norense Odiase /

The Texas Tech basketball team travels to Oklahoma State Wednesday in what is a dangerous game with a showdown against Kansas looming this weekend.

If the Texas Tech basketball team has designs on winning the Big 12, tonight’s game against the ninth-place Oklahoma State Cowboys could loom just as large as Saturday’s showdown with Kansas.

The Cowboys enter the game on a two-game slide which includes a 20-point loss at TCU on Saturday.  OSU has the look of a team that knows it is not headed to the NCAA Tournament and is simply playing out the string.

However, The Cowboys could make one last stand on the season making this a true trap game for Texas Tech.  At 15-12, the Cowboys could still be playing for an invitation to the N.I.T. and  this game against the No. 6 team in the nation would certainly boost their postseason resume.

Though OSU has struggled to a 5-9 record in Big 12 play, the Cowboys have won at West Virginia and at Kansas.  They also knocked off Oklahoma (when the Sooners were No. 4 in the nation) and Texas at home earlier in the year proving they can beat talented teams.

Furthermore, the Pokes gave the Red Raiders quite the scare when the two teams faced off last month in Lubbock.  OSU led Tech by 12 at halftime forcing the Red Raiders to climb on the back of Keenan Evans, who scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half, and ride their star to a 75-70 win.

As every Texas Tech fan knows, Evans’ availability for tonight’s game is unknown.  He is listed as day-to-day with a toe injury that forced him to miss the second half of Texas Tech’s loss at Baylor on Saturday.

So the Red Raiders are facing a desperate team on the road and may be doing so without their leader.  The environment inside Gallagher-Iba Arena is likely to be docile as a winter storm has forced Oklahoma State officials to close campus at 12:30 pm today and will discourage  OSU fans from Tulsa and Oklahoma State from attempting to brave the icy highways.

Thus, Texas Tech will have to be able to manufacture its own energy and intensity.  And if Chris Beard’s team has designs on winning the Big 12 title, they had best take care of business tonight.

A loss would put Tech a game behind the Jayhawks in the standings.  Though Tech could even the race with a win at home on Saturday versus KU, they face an incredibly daunting turnaround as they travel to West Virginia on Monday.

A 1-1 split between the Kansas and WVU games would be a great accomplishment but if Tech falls to OSU tonight, Tech would have to win both games to ensure that their Big 12 fate remains in their control.

That is because Kansas has the far easier remaining schedule of the two teams.  While Tech must take on KU, West Virginia and TCU to finish the season, Kansas faces unranked Texas at home and Oklahoma State on the road next week.

With the Jayhawks playing their best basketball of the season, it would be unlikely to assume they will lose to Texas on senior day in Lawrence.  Plus, Kansas has never been swept by a Big 12 team under Bill Self so even if Tech manages to sweep the season series, expecting Oklahoma State to do the same would be wishful thinking.

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The 2018 season has been magical for the Texas Tech Red Raiders.  They have surpassed all expectations and put themselves in a position to win the program’s first conference title since 1996.  But to do that, Texas Tech can’t overlook a dangerous Oklahoma State team.