Keenan Evans scored 21 points and Niem Stevenson added 19 points, six boards and five assists as Texas Tech vaulted themselves back into the NCAA tournament picture with a 84-78 win over No. 4 Baylor in Lubbock on Monday night.
Terr Maston led the Bears with 22 points and Manu Lecomte chipped in with 16 points. Jonathan Motley played one of his worst games of the season, going scoreless in the first half and finishing with just 11 points to go along with four turnovers.
Here are three things to take away from this game:
1. We got a little glimpse of Baylor’s back court depth issues: Baylor went on the road to a tough opponent and lost. That’s not the end of the worth, particularly when you consider that Motley didn’t play well and Lecomte, who is supposed to be this team’s leader and star point guard, fouled out with more than eight minutes left after picking up a technical foul arguing an illegal screen.
(That, frankly, is unacceptable for a redshirt junior.)
The Red Raiders beat West Virginia in that gym. They lost to Kansas by one point after Kansas got the benefit of a no-call on what looked like a moving screen on the game’s final possession. Their RPI is in the mid-90s, but their KenPom ranking is in the low-40s, which should tell you that the Red Raiders have been on the wrong end of some tough losses.
So, again, losing at Texas Tech hardly tells us that Baylor cannot win a national title.
What it does show us, however, is that when Lecomte isn’t out there, Baylor’s back court really isn’t all that scary. Granted, they were without Al Freeman on Monday, but Freeman isn’t exactly Dennis Smith Jr. There probably won’t be many games where Lecomte is fouling out with eight minutes left, but it is something to keep an eye on.
2. Let’s talk about that Texas Tech at-large bid: The Red Raiders just landed a win over the No. 1 team in the RPI. That will, unquestionably, help them climb in the RPI; there has never been an at-large bid for a team with an RPI anywhere near 90.
The key, however, is going to be what they do over the course of the next ten days. During that stretch. the Red Raiders play at West Virginia, Iowa State at home and at Oklahoma State. As it currently stands, Texas Tech has four top 50 wins, but all of them came at home and they have just five total top 100 wins thanks to a non-conference SOS that ranks 336th. Throw in losses to Texas and Oklahoma, which weigh down a résumé, and Chris Beard’s club still has a lot of work to do to get themselves in a position where an at-large bid is a realistic possibility.
Because as of today, it’s not.
3. What does this mean for the Big 12 title race?: At the time of this posting, Kansas and West Virginia are still playing. But at it currently stands, this loss drops the Bears two games off of the pace Kansas is currently setting. Even if the Mountaineers manage to pull off a win in Phog Allen, it would mean that the Bears whiffed on another opportunity to pull even with Kansas in the standings. Remember, Baylor hosts Kansas on Saturday. That game could have been a battle for sole possession of first place in the Big 12.