No. 18 Texas Tech tries to maintain momentum vs. TCU

NCAA Basketball

With the Big 12 Conference’s week of do-overs at hand, 18th-ranked Texas Tech and TCU both hit the second-chance home stretch with lofty goals, especially now that they have rediscovered their winning ways.

That figures to generate plenty of intensity when the Horned Frogs and Red Raiders square off in Lubbock on Tuesday after both ended three-game losing streaks on Saturday.

In the first and only meeting this season between the two teams, there are tangible opportunities in front of TCU and Texas Tech.

The Horned Frogs (12-10, 5-8 Big 12) have three chances to notch signature victories, something they have not achieved so far this season. Wins at Texas Tech and West Virginia followed by a triumph at home against Texas — all ranked opponents – would be a best-case springboard scenario heading into the conference tournament, which will determine TCU’s postseason fate.

“This was a very big win for us,” Horned Frogs guard Mike Miles said after he and his team outlasted Iowa State 76-72 on the road.

“We’ve got three games next week, all against ranked opponents, so it was good to get this win and get us back on track.”

Texas Tech likely solidified a top-five seed in the NCAA Tournament by clipping 14th-ranked Texas 68-59 on Saturday to snap the three-game skid that had dropped the Red Raiders (15-8, 7-7) into seventh place in the Big 12. They could climb out of that spot by winning out. After Tuesday, the Red Raiders host Iowa State then close out with a road game at No. 2 Baylor.

Maybe more importantly, topping the Longhorns to sweep them for just the second time since 1996 was an emotional jolt that Texas Tech desperately needed.

“It was big because we had a three-game losing streak, so it was a must-win, having our backs against the wall,” Red Raiders forward Marcus Santos-Silva said. “It was just big because were able to get back to having fun right there. We missed those moments.

“Losing sucks. Nothing feels good when you’re losing, but now we’ve just got to build that momentum and get ready for the next game.”

What Texas Tech must avoid is something it might have benefited from against Texas — an emotional letdown.

The Longhorns had notched a big win against Kansas four days earlier but looked flat from the outset on Saturday, especially in the second half when they missed their first 11 field goals and shot 20 percent (5 of 25) overall after halftime.

The Red Raiders have encountered their own offensive woes at times but were solid enough to grind past UT. They shot 44 percent from the floor and were dominant in the paint with 32 points.

Defense has been Texas Tech’s foundation and will get a test from the Horned Frogs, who have been effective from outside the 3-point line. TCU is hitting at a 34.8 percent clip, third-best in the league, and connected on 8 of 19 to top Iowa State.

The biggest key to the Horned Frogs’ first win in 19 days was an 18-for-18 performance at the free-throw line, their first perfect performance in 13 seasons. Leading scorer RJ Nembhard led the way, hitting 8-of-8 to offset a tough night from the floor (5 of 19). Miles went 5-for-5.

“I have confidence in a lot of our guys,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “We have shot it better in conference. We had the right guys at the line.”

–Field Level Media

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