Oklahoma State comes into tonight's game against Texas Tech with the role of spoilers. Wait, what?
Yes, Texas Tech actually has a decent shot of making the tournament and a win in Stillwater would only help that case. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State's only chance of making the tournament at this point would come by winning the postseason Big 12 championship (insert 'so you're telling me there's a chance' meme here).
Tech comes in winners of three straight, all over top 25 teams, and just a game behind Iowa State for sixth place in the Big 12. TTU lacks a go-to player, but has four players who average double digit points per game. Senior guard Devaugntah Williams leads the Red Raiders in scoring with 11.4 a game, but is averaging just under eight points a game in the last five contests. Jeff Newberry should get the call to guard Williams in what should be a very competitive matchup.
Another player the Pokes should keep an eye on is 6-8 forward Zach Smith. Smith, who leads the team in rebounding, has come on strong on the offensive side in the last three games. Leyton Hammonds will have his hands full tonight, but he is more than capable of shutting Smith down.
But it's sophomore Keenan Evans that will be the X-factor tonight. The 6-3 guard is red hot right now, averaging nearly 17 points over a stretch of four games. If Tyree Griffin is called upon to guard Evans, there will be a clear size mismatch that TTU is going to take full advantage of. Still, Griffin plays bigger than he actually is, and has the heart to go toe to toe with anyone as he proved last Monday against Kansas.
With a win tonight and a Kansas State loss to Kansas, the Cowboys will inch their way closer to getting the hell out of the Big 12 basement. After tonight's game, the Pokes have Oklahoma, West Virginia, Iowa State, and Texas before the conference tournament. If Oklahoma State gets swept tonight by TTU, the K-State win last week might be the last one we see from the Cowboys this year.