Five Reasons Texas Tech Could Reach Final Four

LUBBOCK, TX - February 07: Justin Gray
LUBBOCK, TX - February 07: Justin Gray /
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LUBBOCK, TX – MARCH 3: Keenan Evans
LUBBOCK, TX – MARCH 3: Keenan Evans /

Keenan Evans is Returning to Form

Keenan Evans looks to finally be finding his footing again (no pun intended) after suffering a toe injury in mid February.  He’s scored in double figures in his last three games after failing to do so in the first four games after his injury.

Unfortunately, Tech went on a five-game losing streak after Evans’ injury.  The team looked lost on offense and played like it was in shock.

But even with Evans hobbled and a virtual non-factor, Tech fell at home to Kansas by just two points.  That game may have provided the Red Raiders with a big jolt of confidence knowing that they are a championship team when healthy.

One of the potential problems for Texas Tech in the tournament is offensive production.  The team can have droughts on that end of the floor and there could be times that freshmen Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith may struggle in their first NCAA Tournament.

That is where is it reassuring to have a senior superstar like Evans to be the team’s offensive catalyst.  On numerous occasions this year, Evans has almost single-handedly brought Texas Tech back from second-half deficits (Nevada, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Oklahoma).

There is a history of elite guards leading their teams to the Final Four and Evans could be that man for Tech.  Many are hoping Evans can do what another elite guard did in 2011.

That year, UCONN guard Kemba Walker caught fire at the end of the season and led his team to a national title in Houston.  Walker averaged 23.5 points, 6 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game in the NCAA Tournament.  He had 30-point games in both the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8.

Evans is fully capable of pulling off similar scoring outings.  This year, he became the first Texas Tech player since Andre Emmett in 2004 to have back-to-back 30-point games.  Evans scored 31 at South Carolina on January 27th and a career-high 38 in an overtime win over Texas on January 31st.

The only difference seems to be health.  Tech has had to manage Evans’ minutes to protect his toe during recent weeks while Walker played 38 minutes per game in 2011.  But in the win-or-go-home NCAA Tournament, Evans should see a full workload.  If he is even close to 100%, he could lead the Red Raiders to the Final Four.