Big 12 Previews: Texas Tech & Texas

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 25th, 2018

With games starting in less than two weeks now, we’re tipping off our 2018-19 Big 12 coverage by going around the league team-by-team. Be sure to check in throughout the season and follow Big 12 correspondent Brian Goodman on Twitter @BSGoodman.

Texas Tech

The Red Raiders were one of college basketball’s best stories last year, riding a deep and talented rotation to a 27-10 finish (11-7 Big 12) and the first Elite Eight appearance in program history. It’s still incredibly fun to think about what might have been had senior star Keenan Evans not been saddled with a broken toe down the stretch, but even so, this team was wildly successful in coming out of the woodwork to hang with Kansas for most of the conference season and make such a deep run in March. It also served to establish second-year head coach Chris Beard as one of the hottest names in coaching.

Jarrett Culver will take the keys from Keenan Evans in Lubbock. (Getty)

Who’s Gone:

  • G Keenan Evans: 17.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.5 SPG
  • F Zhaire Smith: 11.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG
  • G Niem Stevenson: 7.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 39.2% 3FG
  • F Zach Smith: 6.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG
  • F Justin Gray: 5.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG
  • C Tommy Hamilton IV: 5.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG

Who’s Back:

  • G Jarrett Culver: 11.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 38.2% 3FG
  • G Brandone Francis: 5.1 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 38.4% 3FG
  • F Norense Odiase: 3.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG
  • F Davide Moretti: 3.5 PPG

Who’s Coming In:

  • G Matt Mooney (graduate transfer from South Dakota): 18.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 35.2% 3FG for South Dakota
  • C Tariq Owens (graduate transfer from St. John’s): 8.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.8 BPG for St. John’s
  • F Deshawn Corprew (JuCo transfer)
  • F Khevan Moore (four-star recruit)
  • G Kyler Edwards (three-star recruit)

Outlook: Beard may have lost his three of his best players from last season (Evans and Zhaire and Zach Smith), but there’s still a lot to like about this roster even if a league title is too much to ask. Jarrett Culver is a legitimate breakout candidate who is capable of scoring in a number of ways, and will be flanked by by floor-spacers in Matt Mooney, and Brandone Francis. Tariq Owens steps into the middle just one season removed from leading the Big East in blocked shots, and Deshawn Corprew’s rebounding ability on a 6’5” frame makes him an ideal small-ball four. A relative lack of depth is something the Red Raiders didn’t have to worry about in 2017-18, but it’s more likely to crop up this year. Still, expect this team to remain competitive. The Big 12 coaches somehow picked this group to finish seventh, but don’t make the same mistake.

Texas

It was just a year ago that Shaka Smart’s Big 12 coaching peers were high enough on his squad to pick it to finish fourth, but the Longhorns were one of the bigger disappointments in the league last season, finishing just 19-15 (8-10 Big 12) despite the presence of lottery pick Mo Bamba inside. It’s not that Texas wasn’t competitive, rather there were just too many nights that they couldn’t finish the job. The Longhorns suffered a number of close losses, including consecutive overtime defeats to Duke and Gonzaga at the PK80 in November, as well as a blown 14-point second half lead to Nevada in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Bamba and Eric Davis are now gone, but the biggest contributors outside of that duo are back in Austin. Throw in the wildcard of Andrew Jones potentially returning to action after being diagnosed with leukemia last year and this team should bounce back in some fashion with a dose of intriguing upside.

A veteran squad begets NCAA Tournament expectations in a big season for Shaka Smart. (Stephen Spillman/Austin American-Statesman)

Who’s Gone:

  • C Mo Bamba: 12.9 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.7 BPG
  • G Eric Davis: 8.8 PPG, 34.8% 3FG

Who’s Back:

  • F Dylan Osetkowski: 13.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG
  • F Jericho Sims: 5.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG
  • G Kerwin Roach: 12.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 36.4% 3FG
  • G Matt Coleman: 10.2 PPG, 4.1 APG, 1.2 SPG
  • G Jacob Young: 6.2 PPG, 1.7 RPG
  • G Jase Febres: 17 GS, 3.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG

Who’s Coming In:

  • G Elijah Mitrou-Long (transfer from Mount St. Mary’s): 15.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 38.2% 3FG in 2016-17
  • G Courtney Ramey (four-star recruit)
  • F Gerald Liddell (four-star recruit)
  • F Kamaka Hepa (four-star recruit)
  • F Jaxson Hayes (four-star recruit)

Outlook: The Longhorns were the Big 12’s worst offensive unit in 2017-18, posting just 1.03 points per possession in league play, so there’s plenty of room for improvement there. Dylan Osetkowski returns as one of the Big 12’s most offensively skilled big men, and Jericho Sims should be able to crack double-figures on most nights along with playing the role of leading man on the glass. In the backcourt, Kerwin Roach and Matt Coleman will get some much-needed help with Elijah Mitrou-Long and Courtney Ramey bringing considerable talent to the table, and the freshman bigs will give Smart extra fouls as he figures out who can hang in the rotation. The head coach may not necessarily be on the hot seat at Texas, but there’s no reason why this year’s team, with a stellar combination of experience and young talent, shouldn’t be markedly better than last year’s, even if Jones doesn’t return to the picture.

Brian Goodman (973 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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