With three games left in the regular season, the Texas Tech men’s basketball has a chance at postseason play.
In arguably the best conference in men’s college basketball, seven teams can be chosen for tournament play.
“I can see seven (Big 12) teams making the NCAA tournament,” head coach Tubby Smith said. “If we can finish with a winning record, you never can tell. We could be NIT. Those are our motivating factors and goals.”
Currently, the Red Raiders are seated at No. 9; however, if they win and Oklahoma State loses to Kansas, they could move into a tie for seventh place with the Cowboys and Baylor.
If that happens, Tech would hold the tiebreaker over Baylor and control of the eighth seed.
“If we can make a run these next three games and get a good seed in the conference tournament and just win it,” senior Jaye Crockett said. “That’s our goal. We’ve got to play postseason play this year.”
First up, Texas Tech battles Baylor at 12:47 p.m. today, looking to win for the first time in Waco since 2011 and get two straight victories against Baylor for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
“It’s tough beating a team twice,” Crockett said. “We learned that going up to Oklahoma State. We were kind of a little lenient with the game plan, weren’t as aggressive because we had already beat them. We have to make sure we come out even harder than we did the first time.”
After starting out conference play 2-8, the Bears come into today’s game 4-1.
Baylor’s front line of Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin has improved lately as well as junior point guard Kenny Chery who is coming off a 27-point performance in the loss to Texas as well as a triple-double against Kansas State.
“We’ve got to contain their bigs and guard play,” senior Dejan Kravic said. “We have to contain Kenny Chery and not let him get to the bucket.”
Offensively, the Red Raiders have practiced against a zone defense – attacking the open gaps and cutting to the basket.
“They’re long in that and cause some teams problems,” Crockett said. “Attack and get in the gaps and get their guys in trouble, their bigs. They’ve been blocking a lot of shots lately. We’ve worked on shot fakes and getting them in trouble and going up strong and finishing.”
While Baylor is known for its zone defense, it has started to run more man-to-man lately with some full court pressure.
“They’ve been doing a better job with a little man-to-man,” Smith said. “They’ve been mixing (the defense) up more and pressing more. That gave us some problems in the game the other night against Kansas State. They doubled us and we turned it over a few times. We have to stay organized.”
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