Texas Tech basketball claws its way to crucial victory over TCU

The Texas Tech basketball team was able to claw its way to a crucial victory over TCU despite being without big man Warren Washington.
TCU v Texas Tech
TCU v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

With just 6:55 left to play Tuesday night, the Texas Tech basketball team trailed TCU 69-59. At that point, the Horned Frogs had a 94.9% chance of winning according to the ESPN.com game analytics. But analytics can't account for a team's fight.

Playing its second game in a row without starting center Warren Washington, Grant McCasland's team was once again forced to fight an uphill battle. Unlike in Saturday's loss to Iowa State, though, the Red Raiders were able to fight back against TCU and secure an 82-81 win that will prove to be massive in many ways.

First of all, Tech now sits a game ahead of TCU in the Big 12 standings which could be important for seeding in the Big 12 Tournament. Entering the night, the two teams were fifth and sixth in the conference standings, something to keep an eye on given that the top four seeds in the Big 12 Tournament receive two byes this year.

Also, the win ensured that Tech would not lose a tiebreaker to TCU should the two teams tie at the end of the regular season. Finally, and most importantly, this was another Quad-1 win for McCasland's squad to put on its NCAA Tournament resume.

It didn't look good for Tech for much of the second half, though. After the teams battled to a 38-38 tie at halftime, the Red Raiders were sloppy and offensively challenged allowing the visitors to take a commanding lead. But that's when Pop Isaacs went to work.

Mired in a three-game-long shooting slump, it didn't come easy for the sophomore from Las Vegas, Nevada against TCU either. He was only 4-11 from the floor and 0-5 from 3-point range on the night. However, like many good players do when the shots aren't falling, he was able to get himself to the free-throw line.

Isaacs was 11-12 at the line to account for the majority of his team-high 19 points. Most of those points came during the Red Raiders' second-half comeback.

After the 6:55 mark of the second half, when TCU held its largest lead of the night, Isaacs would scratch and claw his way to 10 points including six from the line. That's the epitome of making something happen when things aren't going your way.

What's more, it was fitting that Isaacs would seal the game with two clutch free throws with just 12 seconds left. Then, after a TCU layup cut the Red Raiders lead to one point, Isaacs would wind down the final two seconds on the clock by holding onto the ball in the face of a double-team and balancing in bounds just long enough to secure the win.

It was the first time in his last four games that he had scored in double figures and the first time since February 3rd that he had scored more than 11. In other words, it was a much-needed reset for a player who has been among the Big 12's best scorers all season long.

Isaacs had help though. Three other Red Raider starters, Joe Toussaint, Kerwin Walton, and Darrion Williams each contributed 14 points to the cause. Meanwhile, sophomore forward Kye'Ron Lindsay added a season-high eight points off of the bench, which was much-needed on a night when Tech got only two points from starting forward Robert Jennings, who was trying to fill Washington's shoes.

In fact, Lindsay would play 23 minutes in the post, eight more than Jennings played. It was the first truly impactful performance as a Red Raider for the former Georgia transfer who had played only 30 total minutes this season before Tuesday night.

Now, the Red Raiders turn their attention to a road trip to Orlando, Florida to take on UCF. Hopefully, what Isaacs discovered about his game against TCU will travel with him.