Texas Tech basketball: Red Raiders stay hot with win over No. 6 Texas

Feb 13, 2023; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Kevin Obanor (0) and forward Fardaws Aimaq (11) after the game against the Texas Longhorns at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 13, 2023; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Kevin Obanor (0) and forward Fardaws Aimaq (11) after the game against the Texas Longhorns at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Don’t look now but the Texas Tech basketball team is starting to have a huge impact in the Big 12 race despite being mired in last place for most of this season.  Now having knocked off three top-15 teams in their last three home games, the Red Raiders are turning a corner and starting to figure out how to close out winnable games after struggling to do so time and again in the first month and a half of league play.

After beating No. 13 Iowa State and No. 12 Kansas State in its previous two home games, Mark Adams’ team continued to throw a wrench in the plans of league title contenders on Monday night by toppling No. 6 Texas 74-67 at United Supermarkets Arena.

It was a game that Tech led for 30:10 seconds, the second-straight game in which Tech has controlled the action and played from ahead bucking its earlier trend of falling into huge holes and trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to climb out.  De’Vion Harmon scored 21 of his game-high 25 points in the first half to stake his team to a nine-point lead at the break allowing the home team to feed off of a frenzied crowd in the second half, a crowd that helped carry the Red Raiders to their best win of the season.  Here are some quick thoughts on what we saw as the latest league title contender fell in the Hub City.

Harmon is this team’s heart and soul

As the clock ran out and the celebration began, Red Raider point guard De’Vion Harmon collapsed to the floor in what appeared to be an especially emotional moment for the senior.  That’s understandable given how he poured out everything he had while playing 34:13 of the game’s 40 minutes.  But it is also indicative of how much he cares about this team and this season as well as how much he has shouldered during Tech’s struggles.

It’s no secret that Harmon is the engine that drives the Red Raiders.  In their three Big 12 wins, he’s averaged 20.3 points per game.  What’s more, frequently, the coaching staff has simply stopped running any offensive sets in crunch time and instead has asked Harmon to generate offense for his team off of the pick-and-roll.

This team had every reason to give up on the season after starting Big 12 play with a 1-9 record.  But that didn’t happen and much of that is due to the fact that senior leaders like Harmon and Kevin Obanor continue to empty their buckets on a game-by-game basis.  That’s one reason why Harmon deserves the respect of every Red Raider fan.


Typically, a game featuring the last-place team in the conference doesn’t warrant a Big Monday showcase but because this was supposed to be the second return trip to Lubbock for Chris Beard, ESPN made sure to give this matchup a prime-time slot when they selected their games prior to the season.  Of course, Beard is now unemployed but that didn’t reduce the level of unbridled hate in the building on Monday night.

Though the crowd wasn’t at full capacity, it was absolutely electric.  That’s a reminder that Tech fans have hated UT long before Chris Beard and that we will continue to do so for the rest of eternity.  But unfortunately, it’s also a reminder of the type of juice that will be lost when the Horns depart for the SEC after next season.

Cunningham blows it

Brock Cunningham is easily the most hateable Longhorn.  His open-shirted taunting of Tech fans prior to last season’s game in Lubbock forever branded him as a public enemy in West Texas.

What’s more, he’s a terribly overrated player.  He hustles and tries hard which earns him a lot of praise from TV commentators like ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla but he is just a guy…a guy with a very hateable face.

Monday, Cunningham was just 3-9 from the field for 7 points in just over 20 minutes of action.  What’s more, he missed a gimme layup in the final minute that could have kept his team in the game.  It was a blast watching him choke in Lubbock just like last season when he scored only 3 points in 20 minutes as Texas lost in Beard’s only trip back to the 806 as an enemy.

Big Maple comes up big

In his second game back from a five-game absence, Canadian big man Fardaws Aimaq made his greatest impact of the season on Monday.  With 12 points and 8 rebounds, he matched the 12 points he put up against the Horns in Austin last month.

However, his greatest impact was not as a scorer but as a facilitator.  Repeatedly finding himself with the ball in the high post after a pick-and-roll, the 7-foot transfer showed an impressive ability to find open teammates for buckets.  His three second-half assists were pivotal in helping the Red Raiders hold on to the lead and the alley-oop he threw to Kevin Obanor was one of the game’s defining moments.  Maybe that passing ability will help this team find scoring on a more consistent basis.

Rice goes cold in second half

After putting up 8 points in the first half to help keep Texas in the game, sharp-shooting backup guard Sir’Jabari Rice would go 0-4 in the second half with all four of his misses coming from beyond the arc.

When Tech lost in Austin, Rice was a huge problem with 18 points, 8 of which came at the line.  Early in the game Monday, it appeared that he might repeat that performance but he couldn’t find the range in the second half and that was a huge reason that the Horns couldn’t keep up with the Red Raiders.

Obanor appreciation

19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks.  Kevin Obanor is a warrior.

Unsung heroes

D’Maurian Williams: 5 points.  Robert Jennings: 4 points.  Elijah Fisher: 4 points, 5 rebounds.  Found money.


Texas Tech still is a very long shot to make the NCAA Tournament.  However, with three recent Quad-1 wins, the Red Raiders have at least given us the slightest glimmer of hope for a postseason birth, even if it is the N.I.T.  That might not seem like much but it is better than where we were just a couple of weeks ago when this team was dead in the water.  Sometimes progress is incremental.  But at least it is now noticeable.