The regular season was an up-and-down roller coaster ride for Texas Tech. But now the real fun begins.
Postseason play is here as the Big 12 Tournament begins Wednesday night in Kansas City, MO. The Red Raiders are taking on Oklahoma State in the first round at 6 p.m. at the Sprint Center.
Tubby Smith's first season as head coach has been a step in the right direction for a program that's started the past three seasons with a different head coach. The Red Raiders remained competitive throughout the season and proved brighter days aren't far away. But that doesn't mean this season was free of twists and turns.
Big 12 play began with three straight losses, but was followed by back-to-back wins, highlighted by an 82-72 win over 12th-ranked Baylor at the time. A three-game losing streak came next, but that was followed with three straight wins, a feat that hadn't been accomplished in a number of years by the Red Raiders. Included in that three-game streak was a 68-60 road win over Oklahoma, the No. 2 seed in this week's tournament.
But following that stretch of good play, the bottom dropped out. A six-game losing streak pushed Tech all the way to 9th in the ten-team conference and erased any momentum the program seemed to be building. That is, until this past Saturday's momentum-shifting, 59-53 victory over the No. 3 seed Texas Longhorns.
"That's the nature of the Big 12," Junior Robert Turner said. "Any given night, any team can win or lose. Everybody's competitive in the Big 12 and every night you've got to give it your all."
It's been a bumpy ride, but smoother skies are expected as the do-or-die nature of postseason play won't allow for highs to be followed by lows. One more loss and the season is over. For seniors like Jaye Crockett, that reality is fuel to play at their best.
"It's real right now," Crockett said. "We only have one more game if we lose. We don't have opportunities to make it up like we did earlier in the season. It's a new season for us and we have to make sure we come out with great energy. But we're ready."
The Red Raiders split the season series with Oklahoma State. Winning 65-61 in Lubbock, but falling by 22 in Stillwater, 84-62. The winner plays No. 1 seed Kansas in the 2nd round Thursday at 2 p.m.
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