Basketball

The Arkansas Game Came At The Right Time

We examine why the win over Arkansas was so key for the Red Raiders squad.

Sometimes all you need is a little break. The NFL has a bye week, Big 12 football has a bye week, and in the NBA, MLB and NHL you get a week off just over halfway through the season. Big 12 basketball, doesn’t really has this.

Sure, Tech skips a midday game in the latter part of the schedule, but that’s only six days off, which is less than the 10 days for the all-star breaks and 13 days off for football bye weeks. The Red Raiders need a little break somewhere else.

Luckily, this year and last year, the Big 12 and SEC have decided to do their annual challenge in the middle of conference play. Although this isn’t a game off, it is a break from the grind of the Big 12 schedule.

Take a look at the Big 12-SEC challenge a year ago. Prior to the game, Texas Tech defeated No. 2 West Virginia by a point at home, but had some bad results surrounding the game.

They narrowly defeated an Oklahoma State team that didn’t make the tournament, lost by double digits at Oklahoma, lost by nine at Texas, lost by an embarrassing 18 points to one of the worst teams in the conference in Iowa State. They were trending in the wrong direction.

Then came the South Carolina game. Although Texas Tech was down late in this game, it just didn’t seem to have the same pressure of a Big 12 game. First off, a loss had no effect on your Big 12 record, which didn’t impact the goal of winning the conference.

Secondly, the level of competition wasn’t the same as a Big 12 opponent. Sure, South Carolina went to the Final Four the year prior, but they were struggling and would not make the tournament. This also means an easier chance at a win and a better chance of getting momentum.

Keenan Evans was clutch late and the Red Raiders won by seven. Then the Red Raider great was clutch again in an overtime win over Texas. That was followed by a dismantling over TCU, Iowa State and Kansas State, along with a win over Oklahoma, all of which were double digit victories.

Now will Texas Tech see a similar path this year? They were embarrassed in their last three games before rediscovering themselves in a win over Hogs and a dominating win over the Horn Frogs. Their offense had come alive and defense looking good once again.

That being said, it’s highly unlikely, considering their next game is perhaps their hardest; at Kansas. But, if they can squeeze out a victory over the Jayhawks, here are their next four games. Home against West Virginia, at Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State and home against Baylor.

That’s the three worst teams conference record wise in the Big 12, and a Baylor team were Texas Tech can get revenge against at home. We could see a similar run like Texas Tech did last year and get back into the Top 10.

Chris Beard says that the season starts in February. Well, it’s February. Tech is just a half game out of first place, and tied with Kansas with two match-ups left with the Jayhawks. The Red Raiders are situated to be a four or five seed right now, but there’s still room to improve with a strong final month and a half.

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