I am still trying to process what happened on Monday night when Mark Adams and the Red Raiders earned their first conference win of the season after completing the largest comeback in program history against #13 Iowa State. Despite facing a 23-point deficit with under nine minutes to go in the game, Texas Tech’s defense came up big and opened the door for a historic comeback that would result in an 80-77 win in overtime. With the victory, the Red Raiders improve to 12-10 overall and finally mark one down in the win column for Big 12 play.
Kevin Obanor, once again, displayed his veteran abilities and came up big for the Red Raiders with a double-double of 24 points accompanied by 13 rebounds. A historic night for the program was also a historic night for Obanor as he reached a huge personal milestone, scoring his 2,000th career point on Monday night against the Cyclones. De’Vion Harmon also made his presence felt with 16 points, four rebounds, and five assists. One of the biggest difference makers of this game, however, was sophomore transfer Jaylon Tyson. Tyson had a near double-double as well with 11 points and nine rebounds on the night, but it was his presence on defense that really stood out and made all the difference in this game. JT managed an impressive four steals, all of which came late in the second half when all hope seemed to be lost.
Breaking Down the Comeback in Regulation
Trailing by nearly 20 with under 10 minutes to go in the game, Jaylon Tyson accumulated THREE steals in just ONE minute. It was this defensive intensity that seemingly lit a fire under the rest of the team as the Red Raiders went on to score nine unanswered. Just as the Cyclones ended their nearly three-minute-long scoring drought, Lamar Washington emerged on the defensive end, coming up with two more steals in under 30 seconds, one of which he converted into a fast break dunk that cut the lead to seven and really got the crowd going again. Just as he had done in the regulation comeback against Oklahoma earlier this season, De’Vion Harmon took it upon himself to drive to the paint and score those nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty type buckets that fostered a fighting spirit in everyone on the court. Despite the fight and grit displayed by each and every player on the floor, the Red Raiders still found themselves trailing by five with under a minute to go in the game, so what did they do? They fought for rebounds and found a wide-open Kevin Obanor in his money spot for a corner three that would cut the lead to two.
On the inbound, Iowa State managed to get the ball into their hot hand, Caleb Grill, but Texas Tech’s relentless defense on the full-court press poked the ball out of his hands. In the struggle for possession, the ball flew out of bounds, and the initial call on the floor ruled it to be Iowa State’s ball. Upon seeing the replay, the entirety of United Supermarkets Arena, including myself, was in utter disbelief at the initial ruling.
As it was under two minutes, however, the officials went to the monitor for a second look, at which point they overruled the initial call, giving the ball to Texas Tech. Harmon received the inbound and drove to the paint, drawing contact and a foul. Although the layup didn’t fall, Harmon took a trip to the charity stripe to shoot two massive free throws. With ice water in his veins, Harmon knocked down both free throws, tying the game at 71 with 20 seconds remaining. Despite having a timeout left, Iowa State’s head coach, T.J. Otzelberger let the Cyclones play out the remainder of regulation on their own. The Red Raiders’ defense continued to suffocate Iowa State’s offense and forced them to take a desperation three as time expired, but it was to no avail. The shot would come up short and the game would be sent to overtime.
Overtime in Lubbock
As overtime tipped off, Kevin Obanor won the tip, giving Texas Tech the first possession with all the momentum. The momentum carried on as the Red Raiders scored the first points of overtime and took their very first lead of the game.
Despite coming up empty-handed on back-to-back possessions, Texas Tech remained aggressive on the defensive end, forcing the Cyclones to take some tough, contested shots that they wouldn’t get to fall. With under three minutes remaining in OT, the Red Raiders found themselves down three, but a tough finish in the paint by De’Vion Harmon cut the lead back down to one, with the ball in the hands of Iowa State. After some huge defensive stops, Texas Tech found themselves back up one with under 20 seconds to go. On an intentional foul by Iowa State, Kevin Obanor was sent to the line, where he, once again, proved to be Mr. Clutch and hit both of his free throws, putting Tech up three. This time, Otzelberger did utilize his timeout to draw up a final play, but it wouldn’t matter as the Red Raiders successfully locked down the perimeter shooters, not allowing a single open look from beyond the arc. After three heavily contested three-point attempts, the final buzzer sounded and it was over. Texas Tech pulled out the unlikely win after trailing by a margin of 23 points in the second half, and history was made in the USA.
Being in that environment and witnessing history is something that I will never forget for as long as I live. I am so incredibly proud of the fight displayed by this team on Monday night, and I have no doubt that they will carry this energy into each and every game they play from here on out. What we saw on Monday night was exactly why we love this school, exactly why we love this sport, and exactly why we continue to back this team through any and all adversity. That is what makes this program and this fanbase special, THAT is what makes us Red Raiders.