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 John Weast/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) /

Texas Tech is one of the few teams in the Big 12 to remain healthy this season

After last season, the basketball gods owed the Red Raiders a break.  Now, just one year after a toe injury to Keenan Evans likely cost Tech a shot at a Big 12 title (and a foot injury caused Zach Smith to miss over two months), the Red Raiders have blessed with better health than any team in the league.

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In fact, the eight regular rotation members missed only one combined game in Big 12 play when DeShawn Corprew did not play against Iowa State in Lubbock thanks to a calf strain.  And that has proven to be a huge advantage in the Big 12 this season.

That’s because nearly every Big 12 contender suffered at least one major injury this season.  Kansas lost center Udoka Azubuike to a wrist injury, Baylor lost star forward Tristan Clark to a knee injury, Iowa State saw starting toward Solomon Young go downs with a torn groin, Kansas State was without Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes early in conference play and TCU guard Jalen Fisher suffered a knee injury before leaving the program.

Whats more, West Virginia, lost star center Sag Konate and Oklahoma State had unprecedented roster attrition when three players were dismissed from the team and another left the program in January.

But it was finally time for Tech to have a season with its full roster.  That’s because this was the first year of the Chris Beard era in which the Red Raiders had their entire compliment of players for the complete season.  In 2016-17, Norense Odiase played in only three games because of a foot injury and last year saw Evans and Smith miss a combined 15 games.

But it must be noted that Tech’s star 2018 high school signee, Kahon Moore, played in only one game this year.  The 4-star recruit was the highest player to ever sign with the Red Raiders but has played only two minutes this year as he recovers from a gruesome broken leg suffered in January of 2018.

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But being the most fortunate team in the conference in regards to health does not diminish Tech’s accomplishments.  In fact, that this team was able to capitalize on its opportunity in the face of a somewhat depleted Big 12 is a testament to its maturity and the leadership of Beard and the seniors.  And after two years of major injuries, it was time for the Red Raiders to finally have the cosmic scales tip back in their favor.