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: Desmond Bane
LUBBOCK, TX – MARCH 3: Desmond Bane /

Zach Smith’s Return Improves Tech Significantly

Zach Smith missed 14 games with a broken foot causing freshman Zhaire Smith and senior Justin Gray to have to play out of position on defense guarding forwards often five inches taller than they are.

The return of Smith to the floor is key on numerous fronts.  Tech now has a forward capable of defending any big man the Red Raiders may face.  Also, Smith’s length and leaping ability help the Red Raiders to be an elite defensive and rebounding team.

Prior to Smith’s injury, Texas Tech had the rebound advantage over every opponent but one. But that changed in Big 12 play.  Tech often struggled on the boards, especially right after Smith’s injury.

But now, Tech is a great rebounding team because of effort from players like Norense Odiase, Tommy Hamilton and Jarrett Culver who all get great position when blocking out. Still, Smith is one of the most natural rebounders in the country because of his size and leaping ability.  Look for Texas Tech to exploit that advantage in the tournament.

Many forget that before the season started, Smith (not Keenan Evans) was supposed to be Texas Tech’s best player.  He was the only Red Raider named to the preseason all-Big 12 first team.

Smith got off to a slow start allowing Evans (and Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver) to emerge as the team’s marquee players.  Even before the injury, Smith had only five games scoring in double-digits and he had zero double-doubles.

However, Smith is now a role player for Texas Tech.  With the scoring provided by Zharie Smith, Zach Smith now is counted on to be an energy player and defensive ace, at which he excels.

Next: Scouting S.F.A.

Zach Smith could be a key contributor if Texas Tech were to meet up with Purdue in the Sweet 16.  The Boilermakers feature two centers over 7-feet-tall including Hawes who is a beast on the block.