Baylor-Texas Tech Preview

LUBBOCK, Texas — Another week means another two step of Big 12 battles for fourth-ranked Baylor and Texas Tech, beginning on Monday at the United Supermarkets Arena.

Baylor (22-3, 9-3 Big 12) enters the seventh week of conference play a game behind first-place Kansas. After traveling to play Texas Tech, the Bears host the Jayhawks on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech (16-9, 4-8) is trying to find its footing again. Since beginning Big 12 action at 3-3, the Red Raiders have lost five of six, including a pair of one-point losses at TCU and at home against Kansas last week.

After hosting Baylor, the Red Raiders travel to No. 9 West Virginia on Saturday.

With at least eight teams in the Big 12 in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament berth this season, Texas Tech has been the hard-luck member of that group through 12 conference games.

The Red Raiders started conference play by grabbing a couple of sparkling wins versus West Virginia and Kansas State at home. But Texas Tech has lost five of its last seven, including four losses in one-possession games.

Even so, first-year Texas Tech coach Chris Beard doesn’t seem rattled by his team’s misfortune of late.

“Nobody wants this or cares more than I do,” Beard said. “I would do anything in the world to get our guys over the hump. But this isn’t my time, it’s the players game. It’s these guys’ time.”

All signs point to another chance for the Red Raiders to get over their slump in one-possession games.

Texas Tech lost at Baylor in late January when the Red Raiders had a shot to tie or win the game in the final 10 seconds.

In the last three seasons in Lubbock, Texas Tech defeated then-No. 12 Baylor in 2014, then the Bears won one-possession games the last two seasons. Last year, guard Lester Medford hit a 3-pointer with one second left to lift the Bears to a victory.

Of course, that was under former Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, who left to take the Memphis job shortly after guiding the Red Raiders to the NCAA Tournament in 2016.

Beard hasn’t been able to replicate Smith and Texas Tech’s remarkable surge in Big 12 play of a year ago. Baylor coach Scott Drew knows the Red Raiders could crank up at any moment.

“We know that Coach Beard has done a great job and they’ve been very successful all year,” Drew said. “Their numbers are tremendous. We squeaked one out here at home. It’ll be another Big 12 game that if we play really hard and really well, we’ll have a chance down the stretch.”

In order to notch another Big 12 road win, Baylor will likely need another strong performance from forward Johnathan Motley.

Last week, Motley scored 24 points with 11 rebounds to lead the Bears past a hot Oklahoma State squad in Stillwater, Okla. Then on Saturday, he posted 25 points and seven boards as Baylor thumped TCU.