Let’s go inside the box score from Wednesday night’s Texas Tech basketball win over Kansas State in Lubbock.
On the surface, the Texas Tech basketball team’s 69-62 win Wednesday night against the last-place team in the Big 12 wasn’t particularly pleasing. After all, struggling to put away a Kansas State team that entered the game just 2-10 in league play wasn’t what we all envisioned when the night began.
But you never apologize for or take for granted a conference win in the second half of February. And given where Texas Tech sits in regard to the NCAA Tournament, every win is important.
It isn’t that the Red Raiders are in any danger of missing the tournament as of this moment. Sitting at 17-9 overall and 8-5 in conference play, the Red Raiders are in third place in the Big 12 standings, which is the highest that this team can expect to finish in the league race this year given that Baylor and Kansas have run away from the rest of the pack.
Finishing as the best of the rest in the Big 12 behind the No. 1 and the No. 3 teams in the country would certainly be good enough to get Tech into the Big Dance in March. That’s essentially all we have wanted from this year’s team anyway; to make noise in March.
Tech has never made the tournament three-straight years as it has an opportunity to do this season. What’s more, the Red Raiders are on track for their fourth NCAA bid in the last five years, another first for the program.
Beating Kansas State didn’t guarantee a spot in the dance but what it did was keep the Red Raiders’ perception around the nation from plummeting. After losing 73-70 to Oklahoma State on Saturday, Tech was in danger of dropping back-to-back games to the two last-place teams in the Big 12 until KSU’s Cartier Diarra missed a breakaway dunk that could have tied the game at 44-all.
Keep in mind, the next two games on the schedule send Tech on the road for a pair of losable games at Iowa State and Oklahoma. Though Tech should expect to win at least one, if not both, of the next two games, it’s not hard to conceive of a scenario where the Red Raiders drop both, especially given the way they have played in their last two outings.
That’s why holding serve against the Wildcats on Wednesday was so critical. That was essential for a team that aspires to make noise in March because public perception after a loss to Kansas State would severely diminish Tech’s seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
Consider that simply by playing a team as bad as KSU, Tech fell from 18 to 21 in the NCAA Net rankings because of how that opponent impacted the strength of schedule. Thus, had Beard’s team lost, the fall would have been far greater.
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Yes, it was a sluggish win that saw Tech make some frustrating mistakes at times. Yes, beating lowly KSU by just seven points was less than impressive. Yes, Tech was the benefactor of one of the season’s most boneheaded plays by any Big 12 player. But in the end, a win is a win and that’s all that matters. So let’s go inside the box score to see how Tech secured this important victory.