Miscellany

Texas Tech Top Ten: 2017-2018 Plays Part 1

We review out top plays from the past school year, starting with honorable mention and No. 10-6.

Last week, we listed the Top Ten Texas Tech Athletes, and we’re going to continue our top ten lists this week with the top plays from the 2017-2018 year. This list may not be as good as others, because unlike other lists, I have to be watching to know the play happened or it be popular enough to be on TV.

Therefore, a majority of plays will be from the football, basketball and baseball season. We’re going to list them by difficulty (obviously), the stage they did it on and the impact it had or could’ve had on the outcome. Some of these will list multiple plays if they are in the same sequence or game by the same athlete.

Once again, feel free to comment below if you think a play should’ve made the list or be ranked higher. Here are some honorable mentions:

  • Zach Smith Windmill — Just your casual in-game windmill. Keenan was running down the court on a fastbreak and saw a hustling Zach Smith in the paint with no one around him. It even made SportsCenter. However, there was no one contesting the shot and the competition was weak.
  • Gabe Holt Makes Spinning CWS Catch — We all were a little confused with the decision and were frustrated with Holt in right field (he killed himself over it too). But if Holt can learn the position, we may be able to see more plays like this. A great catch. The stage was big, but unfortunately the game was a little out of hand.
  • Brooks/Coutee Causes 10 Point Swing — This one is sort of cheating because it’s two plays in one. Jordyn Brooks makes a huge interception in the redzone, undercutting a route. Then Nic Shimonek finds Keke Coutee open for a 77 yard touchdown. Gave the Red Raiders a huge lead (go to 1:40 mark in video).
  • Evans to Zhaire to (nearly) clinch Sweet SixteenKeenan had a dirty crossover on the defender and it was at a key moment of an important game. It didn’t make this list, but we’ll talk about this more later this month.
  • Batson Breaks a Dude’s Ankles — There’s nothing like breaking someone’s ankles, whether it’s football, basketball, soccer, etc. Batson did so in the second game against the Sun Devils to score a touchdown. Very overlooked play. Got some ooh and ahhs from the crowd.
  • DeMarcus Fields Pick Six — It appeared Oklahoma State was going to take a 14-0 lead, but Fields read Mason Rudolph and took it to the house to tie the game. The Red Raiders would lose the game, but it gave the Red Raiders a chance.
  • Josh Jung Flashes Glove on Back to Back Plays — This was a cool moment during the Super Regional against Duke. A blue devil hit a liner to the left of Jung, he dives and throws it to first on his knees. The very next pitch, a batter hits it to the right of him, he dives for it, get ups and throws a dime to first. What an athlete.
  • Zach Smith Alley Oop vs TCU — In Keenan Evans’ and Zach Smith’s last game at the USA, the Red Raiders fell behind early. But the senior duo gave us a classic Evans to Smith alley oop one last time. It was a cool moment (at 0:15 mark).
  • Every Zhaire Dunk — Zhaire’s putback against Florida, Zhaire’s putback against West Virginia, Zhaire’s dunk on a TCU defender, Zhaire’s leanback dunk against Kennesaw State etc. DanSwany suggested I put all his dunks at No. 1. That’s cheating. I don’t plan to Belichick this thing. Not going to link these, they’re probably all on his highlight tape I posted last week.

No. 10 Grant Little Hates OK State

Why This Was Chosen?: Although the stage wasn’t that big, since Tech didn’t really need the Big 12 tournament, Little made some tremendous catches that made SportsCenter. They look very similar and both have a high degree of difficulty.

The first came in the second inning of a tied game, when Cowboy hitter Trevor Boone hit a rocket behind Little. The left fielder quickly turned around, stretched out his arm and lept, catching the ball and falling to the ground in the process.

The second happened in the ninth inning with the Red Raiders up 6-2 with one out in the inning. Literally the SAME EXACT BATTER hit another bullet at Little, this time even further back and to the right of him. Little makes an even more impressive catch this time.

He sprints to the left, kept track of the ball, and leaps out to catch the ball in the mit. As good as the first catch was, the second one was definitely better. As did ESPN, as they put it as the No. 4 play of the college baseball season prior to the college world series (although there’s not a lot of baseball film to pick from).

Little had grown into quite a defensive outfielder. He might have another play later on in the list.

No. 9 Keke Coutee Scores Quickly Against Baylor

Why This Was Chosen?: Much like the last one, not a huge stage, but Texas Tech knew that it needed to win two of their next three games in order to make the postseason. Keke Coutee and the special teams gave the Red Raiders the scoring they needed from the get go.

The special teams unit does a great job creating a wide open hole up the middle for Keke with room to move on either side. Of course, a few guys had a chance at him, but Coutee showed in this play why he was a threat for the special teams unit.

He jumped over a diving Baylor player, put a little move and froze a defender who ended up being blocked, then put on the afterburners to run away from the final defender to find the endzone and put Texas Tech on top.

The Red Raiders ended up winning the game 38-24 to give the school from Lubbock a shot at the postseason. Special Teams wasn’t the best this past season, but they sure were good on this play.

No. 8 Josh Jung Needs Just One Hand

Why This Was Chosen?: This is where the list starts to really separate itself. This one was an important game, as Tech had a chance to move on to the Super Regionals, but the Red Raiders were five runs ahead in the ninth. So Josh Jung started to show off a little bit.

Louisville designated hitter Danny Oriente hit a soft grounder that bounced right in front of home plate, then right in front of a charging Jung. While he was running towards home, Jung bare handed the ball that was going away from him and threw it to Warren, who picked it brilliantly.

What also makes this play good is the reaction from those involved. The announcer goes berserk over it for a bit (HE’S GOING TO BARE HAND THE THROW! HE DID IT!), the crowd goes wild, and Jung just kind of smirks as he flips it the pitcher.

Ty Harpenau would induce a ground out two batters later to win the Regional. Although the game got a little out of hand, Jung gave us one more exciting play in a great regional for the Red Raiders.

No. 7 Keenan Evans Ends the Horns

Why This Was Chosen?: Because there is nothing quite like a buzzer beater. It may not have been as difficult of a play as the previous one, but it defeated a conference and state rival in Texas and won the Red Raiders the game.

Keenan Evans was already having the best game of his career, with a line of 36 points, four rebounds and three assists. Evans made a throw free to tie the game, then missed one to send the game to overtime. In overtime, Kerwin Roach hit a lucky, long bank three to tie the game with 11.3 seconds left. Enter Evans.

The senior slowly moves the ball up the court, with several fans wondering why Keenan Evans was taking his time. Evans made his move with about four second left, appearing to go left before crossing right and separating from Roach (or pushing off depending on who you are cheering for) with a step back deep two pointer.

He shot the ball with about 1.5 second left, and hit the bottom of the net with no time left on the clock. Keenan Evans has had a lot of killer moments at Texas Tech, and this was perhaps the best one of them all.

As far as reactions go, the crowd goes crazy and bench mobs Keenan Evans, who is causally jogging down the student section the celebrates with his peers. What a defining moment for one of the all time great Texas Tech basketball players.

No. 6 Justus Parker Causes Chaos in Austin

Why This Was Chosen?: Well, much like the previous play, it makes it a little better when you beat UT. Especially in their house. But there was more on the line this game. Not only did Tech need to beat the hated Longhorns to clinch a bowl game, but also might have needed it to save Kingsbury’s job.

The Red Raiders were down 23-20 with Texas driving and about to enter field goal range. Not only that, but there was 2:25 left on the clock and Tech only had one timeout. If Texas got the first down, there would be just a minute left when they got the ball back, if they got it back.

Despite this, Texas took a risk and trusted a freshman with a passing play. Eli Howard and Broderick Washington provided some pressure and caused the quarterback to run right and back. This caused him to throw off his backfoot and nearly across his body towards the middle of the field.

Justus Parker read the play perfectly, jumped in front of the receiver, and due to the line moving right, had an almost clear path down the sideline. Instead of Texas being able to almost run out the clock, Texas Tech had the ball in the redzone with a chance to at least tie it. Huge swing to save the season.

There would be no tie or overtime though. Shimonek found Batson in the endzone to take the lead, and Texas turned the ball over again on their final drive to end the game with a Red Raider victory. What a clutch play by the newcomer.

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