Red Raiders Close Out Regular Season on Road Against No. 14 Bears
The freshmen trio of Keenan Evans, Zach Smith and Norense Odiase will lead the Texas Tech Red Raiders as they close out the regular season on Friday at the Ferrell Center, facing No. 14 Baylor at 8 p.m. in a game that can be seen on ESPN2.
The Red Raiders look to close the season on back-to-back wins for the first time since 2007, when Texas Tech won its final three regular season games. The Red Raiders are 5-13 in regular season finales since the formation of the Big 12 Conference.
"We have grown a lot as a team this season," said Red Raider head coach Tubby Smith. "Our young players are miles ahead of where they were at the beginning of the season."
Texas Tech started the season with seven new players, including five freshmen. Five of the team's top seven players in league play come from those newcomers. Those five players provide 57 percent of the team's offense.
Junior shooting guard Devaugntah Williams, leads the team in scoring averaging 10.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Williams has altered his role from starter to sixth man this season, earning 21 starts in 30 games.
In his last two starts, Evans has averaged 13.5 points, 3.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds. His 13.5 points more than doubles his season average of 5.6 points per game.
Odiase, a 6-9 freshman post from Fort Worth, has averaged 11.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 blocks over the last six games. During the last seven games, his Big 12 opponent has averaged 6.0 points and 4.9 rebounds. Odiase has set a school record with 17 charges taken this season.
Smith, who leads the team in starts (28) and minutes per game (27.7), is averaging a solid 8.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks, while shooting 62.2 percent from the field in 32.8 minutes over the last eight games.
What Smith does best might be his ability to affect shots, altering on average 10.1 shots per game with either a block, altered shots, pass, head fake or drive instead of taking the initial first look.
But the biggest spark of all over the last three games, might be Toddrick Gotcher, who is averaging 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists over the last 3 games.
For the second straight season, Texas Tech has out-rebounded its opponent for the season. Prior to his arrival, the Red Raiders had not out-rebounded there opponent since the 1996-97 season. The Red Raiders have not had back-to-back positive rebounding margins since the conclusions of the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.
Texas Tech is running the gauntlet, as 10 of its last 12 games are against Top 25 teams or teams receiving votes in the polls. Friday's game is Game 12 in the 12-game run to close out the Big 12. Starting with Iowa State (Feb. 7), seven of the last eight games for the Red Raiders are against teams ranked in the Top 35 of the RPI. Baylor has an RPI ranking of 10.
Texas Tech leads the all-time series with Baylor, 76-53. Baylor leads the series 20-18 since the start of the Big 12. The Red Raiders are looking for their first win in Waco since a 2011, when Texas Tech upended Baylor, 78-69.