#42 Texas Tech Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Texas Tech Red Raiders
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #42
Conference Rank: #7 Big 12
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Chris Beard’s debut season as Texas Tech head coach had its ups and downs, but ultimately ended without a postseason appearance. The Red Raiders had wins over West Virginia and Baylor along with close losses to Kansas, Iowa State in overtime and West Virginia in double OT. Altogether, Texas Tech ended up going 6-12 in the conference before losing in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. This season, the Red Raiders get their top two scorers back along with a slew of talented incoming players. The Big 12 will be challenging as always, but Texas Tech enters 2017-18 with NCAA Tournament aspirations.
2016-17 Record: 18-14, 6-12
2016-17 Postseason: None
Coach: Chris Beard
Coach Record: 18-14 at Texas Tech, 114-44 overall
Who’s Out:
Texas Tech will be without six contributors from last season, including two of their top four scorers. Anthony Livingston played just one year at Texas Tech as a grad transfer and finished third on the team in scoring with 9.9 points per game. Livingston led the Red Raiders in made threes with 1.7 per game on 39.9% shooting from deep. Aaron Ross was fourth in scoring with 9.0 points per game. Ross made nine starts as a senior and reached double-digit scoring 13 times. Devon Thomas made 19 starts as a senior, averaging 4.3 points, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals. Thomas led the team in steals and was second in assists. Matthew Temple averaged 2.3 points and 1.1 rebounds last year. Temple saw limited playing time as a senior, playing just 8.0 minutes per game. Shadell Millinghaus decided to transfer after just one season at Texas Tech. Millinghaus averaged 3.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. Thomas Brandsma has also graduated after appearing in 29 games last season.
Who’s In:
Texas Tech is loaded with new players on the roster this season. Tommy Hamilton will play just one season at Texas Tech after transferring from DePaul, where he averaged 8.6 points and 5.5 rebounds two years ago. Brandone Francis is a transfer from Florida who will have three years remaining with the Red Raiders. Joshua Webster and Hyron Edwards are junior college transfers joining Texas Tech. Webster averaged 9.1 points and 7.1 assists per game last season while Edwards averaged 13.7 points and 5.5 assists. Davide Moretti comes over as an Italian combo guard who was named to the FIBA All-Tournament Team in the U18 Championships. Texas Tech also adds three three-star prospects. Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith are both 6-5 guards, while Malik Ondigo is a 6-10 forward. The freshmen aren’t likely to play major roles right away, but should at least add depth to the Red Raider roster.
Who to Watch:
The Red Raiders get back just four players who played in 30+ games a year ago. Keenan Evans is back after earning All-Big 12 third team honors behind his 15.4 points, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Evans was an efficient scorer, hitting 46.4% of his field goals, including a 43.2% mark from behind the arc. Evans will be the Red Raiders’ leader this season along with fellow senior Zach Smith. Smith put up 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 assists as a junior. Smith is a freakish athlete who has NBA aspirations. Justin Gray and Niem Stevenson will also be back as experienced seniors this season. Gray averaged 8.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists as a junior. Stevenson posted 8.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Both players provide all-around skill sets that benefit the team. Norense Odiase wasn’t able to contribute last season due to injuries, but he will be back after earning a medical redshirt. Odiase averaged 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds two years ago and looked poised to take a step forward.
Final Projection:
Texas Tech will be one of the more interesting teams in the nation heading into the 2017-18 season. The Red Raiders get their two top scorers back, including All-Big 12 member Keenan Evans, but they will be without six rotation players from last year. Texas Tech is welcoming in ten new guys to the roster this season. There is talent on this team, but with so many moving pieces it could be tough to get them to play well together. The Big 12 is always one of the more challenging conferences in the nation, and the Red Raiders can’t afford to struggle early in the season with chemistry issues. If Chris Beard can get his squad on the same page, they should be competitive and could make the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Keenan Evans, Senior, Guard, 15.4 points per game
Niem Stevenson, Senior, Guard, 8.7 points per game
Justin Gray, Senior, Forward, 8.9 points per game
Zach Smith, Senior, Forward, 12.1 points per game
Norense Odiase, Junior, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.3 (172nd in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.1 (55, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.9 (47, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.2 (141, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.6 (238, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.9 (87, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.3 (78, 2)
Rebound Margin: 3.1 (83, 5)
Assists Per Game: 14.0 (135, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.1 (29, 2)