Texas Tech stifles Trae Young and Oklahoma with its vaunted defense
Texas Tech is nearing a first-ever Big 12 title after handling Oklahoma
It's time to start giving Texas Tech some long overdue respect in the Big 12.
The Red Raiders won their seventh consecutive game on Tuesday after handing Oklahoma an 88-78 loss, and put their nasty defense on full display to limit Sooners star Trae Young to only 19 points, 6 assists and 6 turnovers. Their defense flexed their muscles on Young, who went 0-fer from the 3-point line (0 for 9) for the first time all season and finished just 4 of 16 from the floor.
Texas Tech was paced by a 26-point effort from Keenan Evans, who upstaged Young with an efficient 9 of 15 shooting and only one turnover outing. Evans was also the defensive catalyst that sparked the team's stellar showing, logging two steals and one block.
Say what you will about the history of Texas Tech's basketball program, this result was far from an anomaly and proof of why this team should be considered a title contender. This year. Its defense -- ranked third in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom -- has been the calling card of this team all season. It was at peak power Tuesday against an explosive, albeit floundering, OU offense that has proven to be unstoppable for stretches this season.
What makes Texas Tech's late-season surge even more stunning: Senior defensive stalwart Zach Smith has missed the last 11 games, and the team continues to plug and play at an elite level on defense in Chris Beard's system. And with five regular season games remaining, Beard is looking more and more like a lock for conference Coach of the Year -- and a dark horse to win the honor nationally, too.
While Kansas handled its business on the road against Iowa State on Tuesday evening as well, Texas Tech -- which won over Kansas in Lawrence -- again proved that it is the class of the league this season. At 10-3 overall in the Big 12 with only five games remaining, Beard, in Year 2, has a chance to do what no coach has accomplished in Lubbock: win a Big 12 title.
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