Texas Tech basketball: How the Red Raiders captured the Big 12 title

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 26: Head coach Chris Beard of the Texas Tech Red Raiders positions his players during the second half of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on January 26, 2019 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech defeated Arkansas 67-64. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 26: Head coach Chris Beard of the Texas Tech Red Raiders positions his players during the second half of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on January 26, 2019 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech defeated Arkansas 67-64. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images) /

The Texas Tech basketball team brought home the program’s first ever Big 12 title Saturday.  Let’s take a look at how the Red Raiders were able to finally break through and capture their first conference championship since 1996.

In just three years, Texas Tech basketball head coach Chris Beard has built one of the nation’s best programs.  That fact was validated Saturday as the Red Raiders captured a share of the Big 12 regular season title by knocking off Iowa State in Ames 80-73.

If there is any disappointment in this accomplishment, it may be that the title is shared with Kansas State, which beat Oklahoma at home on Saturday evening.  But while both teams will revel in their accomplishments, you must excuse Texas Tech fans if we are not more impressed with our team’s path to the title than we are with KSU’s.

And look no further than the preseason Big 12 poll for a reason why. (On a side note, how laughable now does it seem that West Virginia, TCU and Texas were all picked to finish in the top five of the league this year?)

Kansas State was picked to finish second in the league after returning all five starters from last season’s Elite 8 team.  What’s more, their star forward, Dean Wade, was selected as the conference preseason player of the year.

On the other end of the spectrum was Tech.  Having to replace four starters and six of last year’s top eight scorers, Chris Beard’s team was picked to finish just seventh in the league despite also making a run to the Elite 8 in 2018.   According to KLBK sports anchor Eric Kelly, this year’s Red Raiders are the lowest ranked team in the preseason to ever capture the Big 12 title.

Where as Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber did a great job of managing injuries to Wade and starting guard Kamau Stokes, he was never tasked with the season-long rebuilding task that Beard had to oversee.  Not only did the Red Raiders have to work through the process of having four new starters, they had to incorporate four players that were not on campus last year (Tariq Owens, Matt Mooney, DeShawn Corprew and Kyler Edwards) into the eight-man regular rotation.

Certainly, Beard has to be considered the front-runner for the Big 12 Coach of the Year award, which would be his second-consecutive.  But because the Big 12 loves to share everything, don’t be surprised to see him split the honor with either Weber or Baylor’s Scott Drew just as he had to share last year’s honor with Kansas’ Bill Self.

Still, there is no denying the magnificent job Beard and his staff did this season.  Let’s take a closer look at how the Red Raiders were able to finally capture a Big 12 title against all odds.