Like all coaches, Texas Tech’s Chris Beard leans on go-to phrases regularly, and one of his current favorites is referring to his talented team as “a work in progress.”
While there have been some bumps along the way, the 18th-ranked Red Raiders took a step in the right direction with a gritty victory on Tuesday versus Kansas State in the shadow of a tough home loss against Oklahoma State three days earlier. Now, they aim at consecutive wins for the first time this season in Big 12 Conference play on Saturday against Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.
Texas Tech (9-3, 2-2 Big 12) had a noticeable new look when it took the floor against Kansas State on Tuesday, with sophomore and second-leading scorer Terrence Shannon coming off the bench after starting the first 11 games this season. He responded with a season-high 22 points and the Red Raiders needed that boost after the Wildcats surged in front early and again when they made a final push.
Shannon averages 13.8 points a game and leads the Red Raiders with 19 per game in league play. He approached Beard with the idea of coming off the bench and the coach made the switch.
“I just feel like I played the game the right way,” Shannon said after his performance, which was bolstered by an 11-for-12 day at the free-throw line. “I attacked when I saw the opportunity, and I passed it when the next man was open.”
Texas Tech was 30-for-36 as a team from the free-throw line against the Wildcats.
Whether Shannon returns to the first five or not, Texas Tech’s depth took a noteworthy hit Thursday when freshman Nimari Burnett left the program. The first McDonald’s All-American to sign with the Red Raiders, Burnett averaged 5.3 points a game in 17.7 minutes a contest. He logged only 6 minutes in the Kansas State game.
“This will be an opportunity for other guys to get playing time, and we’ll look at that as a positive from this situation,” Beard said.
Shuffling the new deck against Iowa State (2-6, 0-4 Big 12) presents a different challenge because it will be Texas Tech’s farthest road trip so far this season.
The Cyclones have struggled all season to find consistency, but they are coming off a strong performance against No. 4-ranked Texas on Tuesday.
In a game similar to Texas Tech-Kansas State, Iowa State jumped ahead of the Longhorns in the early going and made a late charge. The Cyclones rallied with a hot hand from outside the 3-point arc when they cranked in 5 of 12 threes — part of a 52 percent (17 of 33) shooting effort in the final 20 minutes.
Javan Johnson led Iowa State with 21 points against Texas, while Solomon Young supplied an inside presence with 13 points and eight rebounds. Rasir Bolton is the Cyclones’ leading scorer with 14.8 points a game and 42 assists.
“I’m proud of our guys for their resiliency in the second half,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “They stayed the course. We weathered the storm and put ourselves in a position to win a game on the road against a really good team.”
But the Cyclones weren’t able to snare the elusive win, adding to a humbling and frustrating season. For the second time in four years, Iowa State is 0-4 to begin the league campaign. The last time the Cyclones began 0-5 was 2004-05.
“It’s a win/loss business,” Prohm said Monday. “That’s what sports is about. You’ve got to get better. You’ve got to get better daily, you’ve got to get better weekly and you’ve got to continue to grow and build. But at the end of the day, you’re judged on if you won.”
–Field Level Media