Texas Tech looks to rebound from tough loss vs. Oklahoma State

NCAA Basketball

Dealing with pain is part of every basketball season, whether it’s the emotional kind or the physical type.

How No. 15 Texas Tech processes the sting of another close loss in the Big 12 Conference will be front-and-center Monday night when it tangles with Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla.

The Red Raiders (14-7, 6-6 Big 12) dropped to seventh place in the league after a 67-61 loss to No. 23 Kansas on Saturday, their fourth in the past six league games and fourth by six points or fewer against Big 12 foes.

The Cowboys (14-6, 7-6 Big 12) have their own pain to deal with, but there are signs that’s in the rearview mirror.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said Saturday that Isaac Likekele is poised to be back in action against the Red Raiders after missing the past two games with a foot injury. His last action was Feb. 8 in a loss to Kansas.

“He practiced (Thursday) about 75 percent,” Boynton said. “(Friday) he went about 80 percent. We’ve got a couple more days to get him up to speed. I would think he’d be ready to go come Monday.”

As good as Likekele is — he is the Cowboys’ leader in rebounds (7.0 per game) and assists (3.8), while averaging 10.2 points a contest — Texas Tech might be more focused on mending its mental wounds after the loss at Kansas.

The Red Raiders played uphill the entire game, yet still clawed back to create a one-possession game in the final minute when Terrence Shannon Jr. bombed in a 3-pointer with 44 seconds to go.

But the Jayhawks sealed the win at the other end with a well-executed offensive set that sprang Christian Braun open for a wide-open look from outside the arc that he hit.

“Whenever you play teams like Kansas in places like this, it’s going to be a game of runs,” said Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, whose team was in action for the first time in 11 days after two meetings with TCU were wiped out by frigid weather and bad travel conditions resulting from the winter storm that socked Texas last week. “I think you have to give our guys respect, playing it to the bone all the way to the end – making it interesting.

“As March nears, you basically need every player on the floor to play their game, and (Saturday), we were just a play or two short.”

That was eerily similar to the first game with Oklahoma State on Jan. 2. The Cowboys controlled much of the second half, coughed up an 11-point second-half lead then prevailed in overtime, 82-77.

Likekele was big in that game with 17 points and seven rebounds, but Oklahoma State also could use his contributions on an improving defense.

“I feel like it’s going amazing right now,” Oklahoma State guard Avery Anderson III said. “Everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do on defense. Talking, blocking shots, being in the right position on defense and helping each other.”

The Cowboys’ defensive focus will likely be on Texas Tech sharpshooter Mac McClung after he hurt them with 21 points in the January matchup. Kansas handled McClung on Saturday, limiting him to 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting (2-of-6 from 3-point range).

With McClung neutralized, the Red Raiders offense sputtered and coughed against the Jayhawks in the first half. Texas Tech knocked down only 10-of-27 shot attempts before warming up after halftime.

Marcus Santos-Silva (12 points, eight rebounds) and Kevin McCullar (12 points, seven rebounds) picked up some of the slack against Kansas.

–Field Level Media

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