Is Texas Tech the Big 12’s best team? Red Raiders make convincing case in rout of TCU

Texas Tech’s Beard: Looking for consistency going into March Madness

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard feels his team is in a good spot, opening March with a rout of TCU in Fort Worth. But Beard would like to see more consistency down the stretch.
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Texas Tech coach Chris Beard feels his team is in a good spot, opening March with a rout of TCU in Fort Worth. But Beard would like to see more consistency down the stretch.

Texas Tech is in position for at least a share of the Big 12 championship. The Red Raiders certainly look worthy of that label on Saturday.

TCU, on the other hand, did nothing to change its status as a “bubble team” for the NCAA tournament.

Those were the storylines following Texas Tech’s 81-66 whipping of TCU at Schollmaier Arena.

“They’re extremely well coached and playing at a high level,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “They’re playing their best basketball right now.”

No one would argue that.

No. 11 Texas Tech (24-5, 12-4 Big 12) extended its winning streak to seven, including routs of Baylor, Kansas and now TCU in the last two weeks.

The Red Raiders frustrated and dominated the Frogs (18-11, 6-10 Big 12) from the start.

TCU, which leads the Big 12 in assists, didn’t have its first until the 3:57 mark of the first half. At one point late in the first half, TCU had nine turnovers to zero assists.

The Frogs went through an eight-plus minute stretch where they didn’t make a shot from the field, and found itself trailing 33-11 by the 5:38 mark in the first half. The Red Raiders went on a 22-2 run during that span.

“They’re just a really good team,” said TCU point guard Alex Robinson, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half.

“They came out and were real physical with us. We haven’t been able to go much live, so it kind of hit us in the mouth. We had to respond. I feel like we did a pretty good job of that in the second half, but we just dug ourselves too big of a hole.”

The Frogs showed life late in the first half with sophomore forward Kouat Noi going on a personal 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 39-24, but Tech still took a 43-25 lead into the locker rooms.

The 25 first-half points were a season low for TCU, which shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the opening half, compared to Tech’s 59.4 percent.

But the Frogs opened the second half on a 10-0 run to pull to within 43-35 with 16:53 left, and cut the deficit to single digits a couple more times in the second half.

Tech, though, simply had built too big of a lead in the first half for TCU to truly threaten.

“Dug too big of a hole,” Dixon said.

TCU is playing with just a seven-man rotation, and hasn’t been going five-on-five in practice of late. The last time Dixon went live in practice, Noi rolled his ankle and missed two games.

Those depth issues showed up against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders had a 24-0 margin in bench points.

“We have some challenges,” Dixon said. “I wonder if maybe we should’ve done some live stuff, but obviously it backfired on me a couple weeks ago and I’m hesitant.”

TCU now finds itself in almost a must-win situation going into Monday’s game against Kansas State. The Frogs close out the regular season at Texas next Saturday.

TCU’s JD Miller led the team in scoring for the second consecutive game with 18 points.

Tech’s Tariq Owens posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Jarrett Culver and Davide Moretti each had 15 points for the Red Raiders.

As Dixon said, Tech appears to be peaking and playing its best basketball at the right time in March. But the Red Raiders, who made an Elite Eight run last season, aren’t taking anything for granted.

Tech coach Chris Beard feels his team can have more consistency down the stretch.

“You guys saw it -- we played the game about as well as you can play it for spurts, then we just have some spurts that make no sense,” Beard said. “It’s really just about consistency.

“Victory favors the team with the fewest mistakes. The thing for this team has always been consistency and that’s what we’ll strive for here in March.”

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