Keenan Evans Returns To Form As Texas Tech Beats TCU

LUBBOCK, TX - MARCH 3: Keenan Evans
LUBBOCK, TX - MARCH 3: Keenan Evans /

Keenan Evans had his best game since injuring his toe two weeks ago leading the Texas Tech Red Raiders to an important win over TCU on Saturday.

The Texas Tech basketball knocked off TCU 79-75 on Saturday to snap a four-game losing streak.  But almost as important was the fact that senior superstar Keenan Evans was once again the catalyst for the Red Raiders.

Evans’ 23 points helped Texas Tech erase a 12-point first-half deficit as the Red Raiders secured an eleventh Big 12 win, the most in program history.  Additionally, Tech locked up the no. 2 seed in next week’s Big 12 Tournament, the highest seeding Texas Tech has ever had in the event.

But in what has become a disturbing trend in recent games, Evans and his teammates got off to a slow start in the first half.  Evans was scoreless in the first half as Texas Tech struggled in just about all aspects of the game.

Tech allowed TCU to put up 40 points on the strength of nine offensive rebounds that led to 12 second-chance points.  Offensively, Texas Tech actually outshot the Frogs from the field in the first half but six Texas Tech turnovers and a perfect 11-11 performance from the foul line by TCU had the visitors up five at the break.

Fortunately, the second half was a far different story.  And the turnaround was spearheaded by Keenan Evans.

Texas Tech stopped relying on its outside shooting and repeatedly took the ball to the rim.  Evans was  10-10 from the line in the second half including two and-one opportunities.  As a team, Texas Tech attempted six more free throws in the game than TCU and had a five-point advantage from the charity stripe.

As the second half unfolded and Evans became comfortable, one got the feeling that the Texas Tech star would not let his team lose in his final home game.

"“I had the feeling of losing on my senior nigh in high school and I just didn’t want to let that happen again.” Evans said after the game."

While a win over an in-state rival was huge, the return of Evans to his mid-season form could have far-reaching implications for all of college basketball.  If Evans is able to play at close to 100%, this Texas Tech team is a legitimate threat to make a run to the Final Four.

And never has Evans’ importance been more evident than in the four-game losing streak the Red Raiders endured since he injured his toe.  Saturday was the first time that Evans had scored in double digits since February 13th when he had 26 points agains Oklahoma.  That was also the last time Texas Tech won until taking down TCU Saturday.

So to suggest that Evans is the piston that drives the Texas Tech engine might be an understatement.

"“I’m not telling Keenan Evans much this time of year.” Chris Beard said.  “Just be yourself, be aggressive, play, be confident. Believe in yourself.  And let me know how the foot’s feeling.”"

Next: Senior Salute: Keenan Evans

In all likelihood, Evans’ toe injury is not likely to heal until after the season.  However, his performance on Saturday was a huge indication that either the toe is feeling better or he has figured out how to manage the pain and discomfort during the game.  Either way, Texas Tech fans are hopeful that this is what can be expected of their superstar moving forward.