I thought this day wouldn’t come in a long time. At least that’s what I though back in 2014 after they finished last in the Big 12 and in the bottom two for their sixth straight year. But just five years later, the Red Raider faithful are able to call their basketball teams the best in the conference.
They were predicted to finish seventh in the conference, but after their 80-73 win over Iowa State, they finish with a 14-4 conference record. Kansas State might earn a share of the title by the end of the night, but we can proudly say the Red Raiders have won the Big 12 and were the team to end the Jayhawks streak of 14 consecutive years winning the conference.
It didn’t look that way from the start. Texas Tech went down 8-0 early on the it seemed like it was going to be another story where we almost had it. But one thing we all love about this team, is that even when they are down, they never quit. They calmed down, put some shots together, and outstanding shooting of Davide Moretti gave Tech a chance in the second half.
However, as often as it is with basketball, your best players show up when you need them the most. We already mentioned Moretti making everything from downtown, but Jarrett Culver, one of the best players in the nation dropped a career high 31 points on a ridiculous 12-19 shooting. Matt Mooney added 13 points of his own, and Norense Odiase made some huge defensive plays.
What makes this team special though has always been their depth. Texas Tech was tied with just under two minutes ago, and their best players had made the biggest plays in their careers. Brandone Francis hit a deep three with the shot clock expiring. Odaise forced a travel. Culver made a fade away shot to bring the shot to two possessions. Mooney had situational aware to prevent a shot clock violation. And Owens got the offensive rebound and the foul.
This was nerve racking and had me pacing around the room several times. Although this games take years off your life, there’s no better feeling in the world then winning and knowing that you are the best around. Everything Chris Beard has preached was put into effect tonight and the whole season, and it lead to a championship.
And I bet some people around the conference might try to discredit this. Kansas fans might use the excuse of Udoka Azubuike not playing in Big 12 play. Kansas State might say they would’ve won it outright if Dean Wade wasn’t injured. Baylor might use the same excuse for Tristen Clark and Makai Mason. Perhaps all three of those schools may say Texas Tech played a lot of teams whenever they were injured or on a losing streak.
But we could also argue that Texas Tech would have won the Big 12 a year ago if Keenan Evans and Zach Smith wouldn’t have gotten hurt. Don’t let anyone try to take this title away from you. This team earned it. This coaching staff earned. Those fans who watched this team at it’s lowest points and cheered through the good and bad earned it.
And years from now, when fans look up the 2018-2019 basketball season, all they’re going to see is “2019 Big 12 Champions: Texas Tech Red Raiders.”