The Red Raiders extended their win streak to three early Saturday when they picked up a massive road win against the Mountaineers. With the win, Texas Tech improves to 15-12 overall and 4-10 in conference play, moving them up to eighth in the Big 12 standings.
Despite being 6.5 point underdogs and given less than a 20% chance to win by ESPN’s Analytics, Texas Tech came out and played like a tournament-caliber team for just about the entire 40 minutes of play.
Four Red Raiders scored in double digits on the day, led by Jaylon Tyson’s career-high of 27 points on a ridiculously efficient 73% from the field. Tyson’s monster game included five rebounds, a steal, and a block. Tyson out-hustled nearly every player on the court when he was out there and was undoubtedly one of the biggest difference makers in this game on both ends of the floor.
Despite struggling from the field for the majority of the game, Fardaws Aimaq finished with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds. Ten of Aimaq’s 14 points came from the free-throw line, where he shot 100% on the day and just about sealed the game with four straight in the final 35 seconds.
Freshman hot-hand Pop Isaacs made his debut from injury against West Virginia after missing six straight games. After cashing a near 30-footer in his first shot of the game, Pop appeared to be back as if he’d never left. Isaacs finished with 15 points on 60% shooting (50% from three) and contributed such a valuable aspect to the offense that certainly helped to keep the game within reach at all times.
The final Red Raider in double digits was De’Vion Harmon who had a fairly quiet 13 points in his 30 minutes of action, but was an excellent facilitator when it came to setting up the offense in transition. Harmon’s 13 points were accompanied by three rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
In the matchup preview I wrote earlier today, I highlighted three key things the Red Raiders needed to do in order to pull off the win: (1) crash the glass, (2) remain consistent through all 40 minutes, and (3) limit crowd involvement. One aspect I forgot to mention, however, was that Texas Tech also needed to win the turnover battle. Despite a rough start, turning over the ball in five of their first ten possessions, the Red Raiders managed to accomplish all four of these crucial tasks in their road victory, including overcoming an eight point deficit late in the second half.
After getting out-rebounded in their first matchup against the Mountaineers, Mark Adams and Texas Tech came into this game knowing they needed to be more aggressive on the glass, and that’s exactly what they did. Adams expressed that that aspect of the game was one of their main focuses coming into Saturday’s matchup, and they certainly showed it, grabbing 39 boards to West Virginia’s 28.
This Texas Tech team has come such a long way in such a relatively short amount of time and has proven that they have what it takes to really compete in this dog-eat-dog conference that is the Big 12. The overwhelming sense of togetherness that these guys have displayed recently is, in my opinion, precisely what has nurtured their newfound success.
After the win, I asked a few Texas Tech students what this one means in terms of our shot at Tournament contention. Here’s what they had to say:
“Oh man, what a huge win baby, we’re back on the bubble. The boys are fired up to take care of business again. We got some big ones to get with OU and TCU coming up, so let’s go,” said senior Trevor Cobern.
Senior Davion Lister added, “I would say this win moves us a little closer in the bubble. Obviously we have to put a few more games together, but it’s another Quad 1 victory. Norman’s next I believe, which is Quad 1 as well, so if we can put those together and then get TCU back at home, we’re giving ourselves a pretty good chance to get in the tournament.”
The Red Raiders will look to extend their hot streak on Tuesday, February 21, when they travel to Norman to take on the Oklahoma Sooners.