Texas Tech would be a third seed in the NCAA Tournament if it began today, according to a mock selection show put on Sunday by CBS.
The Red Raiders (21-4 overall, 9-3 in the Big 12) were projected to be a part of the East region alongside first-seed Villanova, second-seed Duke and fourth-seed Ohio State. The show only projected the top four seeds in each region.
The East bracket feeds into regional semifinal and regional championship games at the TD Garden in Boston.
Texas Tech’s positioning could change. Experts on the show said as much.
The Red Raiders — who have won their last six games — have games against No. 17 Oklahoma, No. 10 Kansas and No. 19 West Virginia all within the next two weeks. They also could enhance their standing with a run at the Big 12 Tournament.
“Our coaching staff has a lot of experience,” Texas Tech Chris Beard said following a 66-47 win over Kansas State on Saturday. “Some of us have been in this position before so it is really important to lead our players. We have been trying to do everything we can to help the guys. The message they have gotten from us is it is one game at a time. In the Big 12, a two-game winning streak gets you right back into the fight. A two-game losing streak has you feeling like your life is over. We have experienced both. It is not the sexiest of answers, but it is the truth. We are just a program that prides ourselves in getting up every day and going to work. The next game on the schedule is our biggest game. You have to give a lot of credit to our players. I think they have bought into this identity, and they are the ones executing it.”
The Jayhawks earned a sixth seed, while Oklahoma garnered a No. 16 seed in the projections.
The Sooners (16-8, 5-5) visit United Supermarkets Arena for a 6 p.m. Tuesday game scheduled to be televised on ESPN.
With senior Zach Smith out, the Texas Tech basketball team needed a few players to step up in the scoring department.
Enter: freshmen Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver.
The dynamic duo has combined for 31 games in double figures this season. Culver and Smith are also the second- and third-leading scorers on the team, touting scoring averages of 11 and 10.6 points, respectively.
Speaking of offense, the Red Raiders had four players — Keenan Evans (19 points), Tommy Hamilton IV (14), Zhaire Smith (11) and Jarrett Culver (10) — finish with double-digit points totals in the win over Kansas State on Saturday.
It marked the first time Texas Tech had four players finish in double figures since a road loss to Texas back in January. In that game, Culver finished with 16 points followed by Smith (13), Brandone Francis (13) and Evans (11).
“I think the best thing about them are their pieces,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “Evans is really good. But a lot of good pieces. Played their butts off, guard the heck out of ya. It makes it tough.”
Smith, Culver and Evans were tested against Kansas State.
But the trio was also taxed by notching 30-plus minutes on the floor.
Evans leads the way with 12 games of 30 or more minutes played, nine of which coming in his past 11 contests. Smith has eight games with 30-plus minutes — two coming in the last two games against Kansas State and Iowa State. Culver owns the least with seven, but has seen his minutes increase recently, recording six of eight games with 30 or more minutes.
Coincidentally, Smith (42 minutes) and Evans (39) logged their career highs in minutes against Texas at home. Culver recorded a career high 34 minutes at South Carolina.
On a roll
With a Saturday night win against Kansas State, the Red Raiders notched their fifth straight Big 12 win.
It marked the second time the Red Raiders have strung together five wins during conference play in program history.
Who: No. 7 Texas Tech vs. No. 17 Oklahoma
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: United Supermarkets Arena
Records: No. 7 Texas Tech 21-4 overall, 9-3 in the Big 12; Oklahoma 16-8, 5-5
Last game: No. 7 Texas Tech 66, Kansas State 47; Iowa State 88, Oklahoma 80
Last meeting: No. 9 Oklahoma 75, No. 8 Texas Tech 65 on Jan. 9, 2018; Texas Tech 77, Oklahoma 69 on Feb. 4, 2016 in Lubbock
Notable: Texas Tech, which jumped into sole possession of first place with a 9-3 mark in the Big 12 standings, is off to its best start in conference play in program history. It’s also the best Big 12 start since since the 1995-1996 campaign under then head coach James Dickey.