Texas Tech basketball: What Red Raiders must do to beat Cowboys

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse

Fans get excited over the “Fear the Beard” sign  (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)

With the Texas Tech basketball team set to open Big 12 play against Oklahoma State, here’s what the Red Raiders must do in order to get off on the right foot.

Buckle up Texas Tech basketball fans.  The bumpy ride that is Big 12 play has finally arrived.  Today in Lubbock, Chris Beard and his Red Raiders will begin their defense of last seasons regular-season conference co-championship with a tricky game against Oklahoma State.

“I don’t know if ‘excited’ is the word,” Beard said on Thursday when asked about beginning conference action.  “Anxious.  Just feel like we had a good non-conference but until you get into the league you never know.  We got great respect for this first opponent, Oklahoma State.  Surely one of the best stories in college basketball that nobody’s talking about.”

What makes this game such a potential trap is that the Cowboys are a solid 9-3 on the year and they are brimming with confidence.  Playing for the most underrated coach in the Big 12, Mike Boynton, the boys from Stillwater are ready to put last year’s disaster behind them.

Finishing just 12-20 overall and 5-13 in Big 12 play, the 2018-19 Cowboys had one of the most unforgettable awful seasons in the history of the conference.  That’s because in the middle of January, Boynton had to hold open tryouts in order to simply field a full roster.

After seeing one player enter the transfer portal after the season had already begun and having to kick three players off the team for off-court incidences, Boynton had a roster of just nine players meaning that he could not go five-on-five in practice without inserting an assistant coach or manager into the fray.  Thus, the Pokes signed six walk-on players to fill out their roster and a handful of them saw regular game minutes.

That’s not a concern this year for the Cowboys.  In fact, their roster is in a healthy place.  In addition to signing a five-player 2019 recruiting class that ranked No. 24 in the nation, OSU also brings back all five starters from last season.

That’s an aspect of this game that some believe could tip the scales in favor of the road team.  After all, Tech has six freshmen expected to play as well as two grad transfers making their first Big 12 appearance.  But Beard doesn’t want to hear any excuses about his team’s lack of experience.

“In my eyes, we have no freshmen anymore,” Beard said.  “These guys played games in the Bahamas, they played exhibition games against Houston and UTEP.  We’ve played twelve games by now so, you know, at what point do we quit talking about them being freshmen?  I think it’s now.  This is the conference season.  These guys are experienced players so we need everybody on our roster to play well to have success.”

It will be an interesting litmus test for the Red Raiders today.  Facing an opponent that will not be intimidated by playing in Lubbock after almost pulling off an OT upset last year inside the U.S.A., Beard’s team had better bring its best effort today because nothing less will suffice in conference play.   So let’s take a look at what the Red Raiders need to do in order to start the Big 12 portion of the schedule with a victory.

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse