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Texas Tech Avoids Disaster Against Oklahoma State, Baylor Hangs On

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Texas Tech

So …. Where to start ….

West Virginia wins in triple-overtime over TCU. Texas Tech has to outlast Lindy Waters III and Oklahoma State to win in overtime to keep its share of the Big 12 lead. And Baylor falls behind by 19, forces overtime and wins in overtime over Texas.

Seriously? Where do we start?

Let’s start with Oklahoma State (10-19, 3-12 in Big 12) and Texas Tech (23-5, 11-4) in Lubbock, Texas, because, after all, if the Red Raiders were to win it would remain tied for the Big 12 lead with Kansas State. And the Red Raiders did, ultimately, claim that share with an 84-80 win. But I wasn’t able to check in with the game until close to the end of regulation. I had some things to do before I could sit down and get to work. So imagine my surprise when I saw this.

Oklahoma State was ahead? For the first time in the entire game after being down 14 at one point? And the Cowboys only have seven scholarship players? Nuts. Right after that the Red Raiders changed the narrative. Tech went on a 7-0 run and took a 65-59 lead in the final minute. That should have done it, right?

Of course not because, after all, this is the Big 12.

I made this point in my Good, Bad and Ugly piece this past Monday about West Virginia and how head coach Bob Huggins has finally found his “Ride or Die” guys, most of whom are freshmen but want to play and are playing hard for Hugs.

Well, OSU head coach Mike Boynton Jr.’s Cowboys have the same conference record as the Mountaineers. The difference between the two teams is that Boynton has never lost his “Ride or Die” guys this season — Cameron McGriff, Thomas Dziagwa and Lindy Waters III.

And Waters was basically a cold-blooded assassin in the final minute of this game.

One day, someone has to tell me how the Oklahoma Sooners let this guy get out of their backyard. Huge mistake on the Sooners’ part if they didn’t recruit him hard. Waters has been a big get for the Cowboys, who watched the junior drain a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 3 points, 65-62, with 53 seconds left. Great news for the Cowboys, but the Red Raiders answered with a Jarrett Culver jumper with 28 seconds left. Lead back to 5 points. Still a tall order.

Waters dribbled right back down to the other end of the court and drained another 3-pointer with 20 seconds left. Now it’s a 2-point game. But Tech still has the advantage. The Red Raiders got the ball to their best free-throw shooter, Davide Moretti. He makes them both. Now it’s a 4-point game with 18 seconds left.

So, of course, Waters makes ANOTHER 3. And Tech’s trying to defend him, too. Waters is just knocking down everything in sight. That trey cuts the lead to 1 point with 11 seconds left. But the Red Raiders, smartly, get the ball to Moretti again. He makes two free throws and the lead is back to three. So, worst-case scenario for Texas Tech is a tie game. But, first, a little replay drama.

Officials called this inbounds pass out on Texas Tech. To me, looking at the replay, I felt it actually went out on Waters. The camera angle behind Waters shows me that the ball redirected as it went by his hand. The officials looked at this for a good four minutes but couldn’t come to a conclusion. What do you do in that case? You keep the call the way it is.

And then Waters. Does. This.


I think Culver was trying to foul Waters on that play. You can argue that he did, but as my high school coach once told me, “If I tell you to foul, you’d better leave no doubt.” I think Culver left some doubt there, and that’s part of the reason why the game went to overtime.

But Waters? He hit four — FOUR — 3-pointers in the final minute of the game and sent the game to overtime. And, when you consider how the final minute transpired, Tech did everything right when it had the ball in its hands. Culver hit a jumper and Moretti hit four free throws. The Red Raiders didn’t miss. But the game still went on to overtime.

In overtime the Red Raiders pulled away and the unsung hero here was Moretti. I mentioned earlier that he’s the Red Raiders’ best free throw shooter. He earned his bones Wednesday night. He went 12-for-12 at the line and went 8-for-8 in the final six minutes of regulation and overtime. Oh, and he sealed the deal, too.


Moretti ended up leading Texas Tech with 20 points. Culver added 19 points and 10 rebounds. Tariq Owens had 16 points (and one awful foul in overtime that fortunately didn’t hurt the Red Raiders that much).

Waters had 26 huge points, 21 of which came on 3-pointers. Lost in all of this is the fact that Dziagwa had 20 points including six 3-pointers. Curtis Jones added 11 points off the bench. McGriff only had 8 points but he had 11 rebounds. The effort with which the Cowboys have played all of this Big 12 season, despite being so short-handed, has been terrific night in and night out and it’s going to serve them well next season with the tremendous recruiting class Boynton has coming in.

As for the Red Raiders, well, the win preserves their opportunity to win at least a share of the Big 12. With three games left the Red Raiders and Kansas State each have a share and if the Red Raiders can hang on it will be their first Big 12 title in men’s basketball … ever. Yep, the Red Raiders’ last league title came in 1996 when the Red Raiders were still in the Southwest Conference. Time to dig up James Dickey’s number for future feature stories. He’s the last Red Raiders head coach to get that done.

So from that game I toggled over to Texas (15-13, 7-8) at Baylor (19-9, 10-5) and found, well, Texas dominating the heck out of Baylor. Now it’s one thing to do that full strength. But the Longhorns were without both Kerwin Roach Jr. — who is suspended — and forward Dylan Osetkowski, who had the flu. Kamaka Hepa started in Osetkowski’s place. So, naturally, the Longhorns were up 11 at the break, thanks in part of guard Courtney Ramey, who was scoring in bunches.


The Longhorns were shooting lights out and it got worse in the second half for the Bears. At one point Baylor was down 19 points. There’s no coming back from that, right? RIGHT?

Well…..


Yep, the Bears just went nuts from the arc in the second half. Mario Kegler was hitting. Devonte Bandoo was hitting. Jared Butler was hitting. During the tail end of the second half the Bears went on an unreal 19-2 run, at which point they had completely erased Texas’ lead and made it 64-all with 2:42 left. Yep, all tied up.

And it was tied up at the end of regulation. So we went to our fifth overtime period in Big 12 action in a 26-hour span.

And it was brilliant stuff, too. Remember Hepa, the freshman filling in for Osetkowski? It was just his first collegiate start, that’s all. He had 11 points and this terrific 3-pointer to give Texas a 6-point lead with less than two minutes to play in overtime.


Of course, that lead wasn’t safe, either. Butler answered right back with a 3 of his own. Then after a missed layup by Matt Coleman III on the other end, Baylor worked and worked and worked to get Freddie Gillespie a dunk to cut Texas’ lead to one. Oh, and Gillespie had blocked Coleman’s layup at the other end. Forgot to mention that.

On the other end Texas guard Jase Febres pushed the lead back to 3 points with his only deuce of the night. I write “only deuce” because Febres actually had 23 points, including seven 3-pointers before that. Baylor followed that with another high-energy possession that included two missed baskets, two offensive rebounds and a layup by Mark Vital. That cut Texas’ lead to 1 with 9 seconds left. After the Baylor time out, this happened.


Hayes had a great night to that point — 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks and a steal. There’s a reason NBA scouts descended on that game as some speculate the freshman could be a lottery pick. But this was an unfortunately-timed gaffe for the Longhorns. From there the Bears got the ball back, drew two fouls from Texas — which had two fouls to give — and then Kegler was fouled with three seconds left as he drove to the basket. He missed the shot. But he didn’t miss the free throws.


Kegler led the Bears with 24 points, including four 3-pointers. He also had 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Butler had 15 points, Vital had 13 points and Bandoo had a huge 18 points off the bench. The Bears went from kissing any shot at remaining in the Big 12 race goodbye to staying in the race in the space of about an hour. The Bears are still a game back of the lead shared by Texas Tech and Kansas State, and tied with Kansas for second place. But a loss on Wednesday probably would have been curtains for the Bears. Now, the Bears still have a chance and they’re a lock to avoid playing on the first day of the Big 12 Tournament. A month ago I wouldn’t have put money down on any of that.

As for Texas, Ramey ended up with 17 points, so Baylor was able to cool him off in the second half and in overtime. But he did end up with a double-double, dishing out 10 assists. If nothing else this season the Longhorns have found their point guard of the future. Coleman had 11 points. The kids looked good, despite the loss, and as long as head coach Shaka Smart can keep Hayes on campus another year, there’s a solid foundation to build from. Plus, Texas right now has the No. 11 recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports.com, including a five-star 7-footer, Will Baker from Austin Westlake, considered the No. 25 recruit in the country.

That’s why it’s unlikely Smart is fired after this season, although the question of whether the natives are restless keeps coming up. He recruits too well to let go at this point. Keep this core together, bring in the new kids and you’ve got something really interesting (Aside: What if, next season, Andrew Jones finally returns?). The Longhorns are going to play postseason basketball this season. But it’s not clear if it’s going to be in the NCAA Tournament or in the NIT. That’s up for debate after this loss. And it’s a bad beat, no question.

Finally, on Tuesday night, in Morgantown, W.V., the Mountaineers (11-17, 3-12) needed three overtimes to defeat TCU (18-10, 6-9), 104-96. I feel like it’s a bit useless to write 1,000 words on this one since it was two days ago, even though it’s worth it. So here’s some of the most notable things to come out of that game:

Six players played 50 or more minutes. Four of them played for West Virginia;

Ten players were in double figures — five for TCU, five for West Virginia;

Three players had double-doubles — TCU’s Kouat Noi, West Virginia’s Derek Culver and West Virginia’s Jordan McCabe. Noi had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Culver had an enormous night — 22 points and 21 rebounds. In fact, Culver had a double-double just with his 22 points and his 14 defensive rebounds. McCabe had 25 points and 11 assists. Culver’s rebounds were a career high. His 22 points were one point short of his career high of 23. McCabe had a career-high night in both categories. But it marked his second straight game in double figures in scoring.

West Virginia seems to have finally found players they can build around for next season. Culver is a mega-talent in the making. McCabe (maybe WVU has finally found its point guard?), Jermaine Haley, Emmitt Matthews Jr. are freshmen, just like Culver. Huggins has a McDonald’s All-America recruit coming in next season in Oscar Tshiebwe. Yes this season doesn’t look great, but the effort this team has played with the past few weeks is a cut above where it was when I saw them in person in January. Huggins has finally found the guys that have bought in. It just took him much longer to find them than he expected.

As for TCU, this was a game it needed when it came to its NCAA Tournament hopes. I’m not as convinced as others that the Horned Frogs have the resume to get into the Tourney. The Horned Frogs have now lost four of their last five and they face Texas Tech and Kansas State back-to-back. That’s part of the reason why the Horned Frogs needed to win Tuesday night. With the loss TCU is now pointed toward a game the first day of the Big 12 Tournament, and it could face West Virginia again. That should leave a bad taste in TCU’s mouth going into Kansas City. That could be a good thing. But after this loss, unless they pull off an upset, I now believe the Horned Frogs need to win that first Big 12 Tournament game to have a chance to get into the NCAA’s for the second straight year.

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