Texas Tech set for tests this week at Arkansas, TCU

Is Texas Tech really this good?

We’ll know more this week when the fourth-ranked Red Raiders play two on the road at No. 8 Arkansas.

The games between former rivals in the Southwest Conference are set for Tuesday and Wednesday in Fayetteville.

After that, Tech travels for a Big 12 series at TCU from Friday through Sunday.

The Red Raiders on Monday moved up one spot in the national rankings, according to Baseball America.

They did it after a 3-1 week overall, and a 2-1 series win over Oklahoma in the Big 12.

Sophomore third baseman Josh Jung from San Antonio (MacArthur HS) enjoyed a magical week for the Red Raiders, hitting .588 with three home runs and 13 RBIs.

He produced 10 hits, including seven that went for extra bases.

Last Tuesday, he became the sixth player in school history to hit for the cycle at New Mexico.

Last Friday, he scored the winning run against Oklahoma on a balk.

On third base, Jung faked a steal of home and caused an OU pitcher to make the mistake that moved runners up, giving Tech the victory.

Here’s the rest of this week’s Top 25, according to the magazine’s website:

1. Florida 34-8 SEC
2. North Carolina State 31-8 ACC
3. Stanford 30-5 Pac-12
4. Texas Tech 32-9 Big 12
5. Mississippi 32-9 SEC
6. Oregon State 29-6 Pac-12
7. East Carolina 30-9 American
8. Arkansas 28-13 SEC
9. UCLA 25-10 Pac-12
10. North Carolina 27-13 ACC
11. Vanderbilt 24-16 SEC
12. Duke 31-10 ACC
13. Kentucky 26-14 SEC
14. Clemson 29-11 ACC
15. Southern Miss 28-11 Conference USA
16. Coastal Carolina 28-14 Sun Belt
17. Florida State 29-12 ACC
18. Indiana 29-8 Big Ten
19. Texas 28-15 Big 12
20. South Florida 26-14 American
21. Tennessee Tech 34-5 Ohio Valley
22. Oklahoma 27-15 Big 12
23. Minnesota 25-11 Big Ten
24. Georgia 27-13 SEC
25. Jacksonville, Fla. 28-13 Atlantic Sun

Josh Jung hits for the cycle as Texas Tech routs New Mexico

Josh Jung, a Texas Tech sophomore from MacArthur, etched his name in the school record books Tuesday afternoon in Albuquerque.

He became the sixth player in Tech history to hit for the cycle in a 20-9 victory for the fifth-ranked Red Raiders at New Mexico.

Jung continued with his season-long batting tear by going 5-for-5, hitting two homers and driving in eight runs against the Lobos.

Highlighting his performance, Jung singled in the first inning, doubled in the third, homered in the fourth and eighth, and then tripled in the ninth.

The outburst raised Jung’s batting average to .403 for the season.

He also has produced seven home runs and 52 RBI in 38 games for the Red Raiders (30-8).

Villanova downs Texas Tech to secure another Final Four berth

All that bad mojo affecting top-seeded teams in the NCAA South and West regions didn’t seem to bother the Villanova Wildcats in the East.

No. 1 Villanova capped an impressive 4-0 streak in the tournament with a 71-59 victory over third-seeded Texas Tech Sunday afternoon at Boston.

With the win, the Wildcats earned a berth in the Final Four this week in San Antonio.

It is the second trip to a Texas-based Final Four for Villanova in three years.

The Wildcats won the 2016 title at Houston.

Villanova will play either Kansas or Duke in the semifinals on Saturday at the Alamodome.

For Texas Tech, the loss brought to an end the deepest run in the tournament in school history.

“I told the young guys that we’d be back,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard told CBS television. “I told the seniors thanks for everything.”

Texas Tech beats Purdue, advances to NCAA Elite Eight

The third-seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders ran away from No. 2 Purdue 78-65 Friday night in Boston, advancing to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

Texas Tech will play No. 1-seed Villanova on Sunday for the East Region championship and a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio.

In a television interview, Texas Tech coach Chris Beard called it “one of our best defensive games” of the season and cited guard Keenan Evans for taking over “like he usually does.”

Evans hit clutch shots down the stretch in finishing with a team-high 16 points.

Perhaps more significantly, the Red Raiders held Purdue to 44 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers.

Texas Tech had made it to the Round of 16 twice in the past 22 years but lost both times.

Tech’s victory places a third team from the Big 12 Conference in the Elite Eight.

The Red Raiders will join the Kansas State Wildcats and the Kansas Jayhawks, all with a chance to make it to San Antonio.

In Saturday’s Elite Eight games, Kansas State will play Loyola-Chicago in Atlanta for the South Region championship, while Florida State will take on Michigan in Los Angeles for the West title.

On Sunday, Tech will face off against talented Villanova in Boston, while Kansas will play Duke, in Omaha, for Midwest Region crown.

Tech might have as balanced of a team as any left in the tournament because of its athleticism, its defense and its ability to get shots close to the basket.

“We just gave up way too many layups,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We couldn’t keep ’em out of the paint.”

Texas Tech beats Florida, advances to Round of 16

Texas Tech advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years Saturday night following a 69-66 victory over Florida in an East Regional second-round game at Dallas.

It’s a stunning achievement for the Red Raiders, who were picked in the preseason to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 Conference.

Second-year Texas Tech coach Chris Beard told a television reporter for TBS that he has always been driven to prove people wrong.

“We don’t have the McDonald’s All-Americans,” Beard said. “But we’ve got guys who have gotten better, and we’ve got guys who believe in themselves.”

As a result, third-seeded Tech (26-9) will move on to Boston next week to face either Purdue or Butler.

The Red Raiders last played in the Sweet 16 in 2005 when they defeated UCLA and Gonzaga in Tucson before losing to West Virginia, 65-60, in the regional semifinals at Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Bob Knight was in his fourth season as Tech’s coach at the time.

Houston’s heart-break

Jordan Poole hit a long three-pointer to beat the buzzer as the third-seeded Michigan Wolverines ousted No. 6 Houston 64-63 in a Round of 32 West Region thriller at Wichita, Kansas.

The Cougars had a chance to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 34 years but couldn’t stop the Wolverines from making the winning play with a possession that started with 3.6 seconds remaining.

Michigan inbounded the ball from its own baseline. The pass went to Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who passed to Poole on the right wing.

Poole elevated with pressure from a Houston defender and, with legs splayed, hoisted the shot that lifted Michigan into the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.

Loyola-Chicago wins again

Clayton Custer’s jumper with 3.6 seconds left boosted the 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers into the Round of 16 with a 63-62 victory over No. 3 Tennessee in a South Region game at Dallas.

The Volunteers had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Jordan Bone misfired on a contested three from top of the circle.

With the victory, Loyola-Chicago emerged as the only double-digit seed to win a second-round game on Saturday, with three more — UMBC, Butler and Syracuse — playing Sunday.

Round of 32

Saturday’s scores / Sunday’s schedule

South

(16) UMBC vs. (9) Kansas State, Sunday, 6:45 p.m., TruTV
(5) Kentucky beat (13) Buffalo, 95-75

(11) Loyola-Chicago beat (3) Tennessee, 63-62
(2) Cincinnati vs. (7) Nevada, Sunday, 5:10 p.m., TNT

West

(1) Xavier vs. (9) Florida State, Sunday, 7:45 p.m., TNT
(4) Gonzaga beat (5) Ohio State, 90-84

(3) Michigan beat (6) Houston, 64-63
(7) Texas A&M vs. (2) North Carolina, Sunday, 4:15 p.m., CBS

East

(1) Villanova beat (9) Alabama, 81-58
(5) West Virginia vs. (13) Marshall, Sunday, 8:40 p.m., TBS

(3) Texas Tech beat (6) Florida, 69-66
(10) Butler vs. (2) Purdue, Sunday, 11:10 a.m., CBS

Midwest

(1) Kansas beat (8) Seton Hall, 83-79
(4) Auburn vs. (5) Clemson, Sunday, 6:10 p.m., CBS

(11) Syracuse vs. (3) Michigan State, Sunday, 1:40 p.m., CBS
(2) Duke beat (7) Rhode Island, 87-62

Late run lifts third-seeded Texas Tech past SFA, 70-60

Keenan Evans scored 23 points Thursday night in a 70-60 victory for third-seeded Texas Tech over No. 14 Stephen F. Austin in an NCAA East Regional round-of-64 game at Dallas.

Trailing by seven, Texas Tech outscored SFA 26-9 in the last 10 minutes of the game to secure its first NCAA victory in 13 years.

The win lifted the Red Raiders (25-9) of the Big 12 conference into the round of 32 against either sixth-seeded Florida or No. 11 St. Bonaventure.

Riding a five-game winning streak into the tournament, the Southland Conference champs from SFA (28-7) played well for 30 minutes and had a chance, but lost in Kyle Keller’s first NCAA game as a head coach.

The game was a reunion of coaches, of sorts.

Keller and SFA assistant Jeremy Cox worked on Tim Carter’s staff at UTSA in the 1990s, and both knew Chris Beard, then an assistant at Incarnate Word.

Beard is in his second season as Texas Tech’s head coach.

Stat leaders

Texas Tech: Keenan Evans, 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists. Zhaire Smith, 10 points, 8 rebounds.

SFA: Ivan Canete, 17 points, 5 of 8 shooting, 4 steals. Shannon Bogues, 14 points off the bench. Kevon Harris, 12 points, 4 steals. TJ Holyfield, 10 points.

Coming up: Texas Tech will meet either Florida or St. Bonaventure with a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line. Tech’s last Sweet 16 berth came in 2005 under coach Bob Knight.

Texas Tech, SFA to meet in NCAA round of 64 at Dallas

Seven programs from the state of Texas were slotted into the 68-team NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The tournament opens Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, on the first of two days of the First Four, and then it concludes with the Final Four, set for March 31 and April 2 at the Alamodome.

Here’s the bracket just released at ncaa.com.

Texas schools in the tournament include Texas Tech, Stephen F. Austin, TCU, Texas Southern, Houston, Texas A&M and Texas.

Texas Tech … The Red Raiders (24-9) are the No. 3 seed in the East Region and will be headed to Dallas to play on Thursday against 14th-seed Stephen F. Austin (28-6). The winner would play again on Saturday against sixth-seeded Florida or No. 11 UCLA or St. Bonaventure.

Stephen F. Austin … The Lumberjacks are coached by former UTSA and Texas A&M assistant Kyle Keller. In his second year with SFA, Keller led the Lumberjacks to the Southland Conference postseason title with a 59-55 victory over Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday night in Katy.

TCU … The sixth-seeded Horned Frogs (21-11) will play either No. 11 Syracuse (20-13) or Arizona State (20-11) on Friday in Detroit in the Midwest Region. If TCU can win, it would draw either third-seeded Michigan State or No. 14 Bucknell.

Texas Southern … The Tigers (15-19) open with the North Carolina Central Eagles (19-15) on Wednesday in Dayton on the second day of the First Four phase of the tournament. The winner of the matchup will advance as a No. 16 seed to face West Region No. 1 Xavier on Friday night in Nashville.

Houston … The Cougars (26-7) are seeded 6th in the West, opening Thursday in Wichita, Kansas, against No. 11 San Diego State (22-10). The winner would advance to play either No. 3 Michigan or No. 14 Montana on Saturday.

Texas A&M … The Aggies (20-12) are seeded 7th in the West and will start play Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, against 10th-seeded Providence (21-13). If the Aggies advance they would face either No. 2 North Carolina or No. 15 Lipscomb on Sunday.

Texas … The Longhorns (19-14) are a No. 10 seed in the South, playing against No. 7 Nevada (27-7) on Friday in Nashville. A victory would boost them into a round of 32 game Sunday against either second-seeded Cincinnati or Georgia State.

Quotable

“This is a day we’ve looked forward to and knew it was going to happen,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard told boosters Sunday night, in remarks published in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “So thanks for making it special for the players. We can’t thank you enough for your support this year. Let’s make Red Raider nation a big force in Dallas.”

Prince or frog? Texas Tech’s Beard wary of Big 12 hype

The Texas Tech basketball program on Sunday discovered yet another sign that the Red Raiders have joined the conversation as a dark horse candidate to play deep into March during the NCAA tournament.

In Jerry Palm’s latest projection for CBS Sports, the Big 12-leading Red Raiders are pegged as a No. 2 seed in the West region, headed for Dallas to play in the round of 64.

Of course, a month remains before Selection Sunday.

But both the experts and amateurs alike are busily trying to sort out what the bracket might look like.

In dissecting how the Big 12 teams will be slotted, Palm has projected the surprising Red Raiders (21-4, 9-3) as a No. 2 and Kansas (19-6, 8-4) as a No. 3.

West Virginia is pegged as a No. 5 seed and the Oklahoma Sooners, who will roll into Lubbock to play the Red Raiders Tuesday night, are a No. 6.

TCU is viewed as a No. 10, with Texas and Kansas State slotted precariously on the No. 12 line.

All very interesting, except Texas Tech coach Chris Beard isn’t buying any of it.

Beard has joked that, in the Big 12, you can be a prince one day and a frog the next.

“A two-game losing streak feels like your life is over,” he told reporters Saturday night.

Life is good at the moment for Beard, whose team has won six in a row.

In their latest statement, the Red Raiders went on the road and convincingly whipped the Kansas State Wildcats, 66-47, to gain sole possession of the conference lead.

Pressed on what he is telling his players now that they hold a one-game edge on defending champion Kansas, Beard said the message is simple.

Stay the course.

“I’m getting this question a lot,” Beard said. “I wish I had a better answer for you. I’m not trying to be like Debbie Downer.

“(With our team) … the next day is the most important. We’re just trying to win the next game on our schedule.”

Texas Tech gains tie for first with Kansas in the Big 12

The Texas Tech Red Raiders have moved into a tie for first in the Big 12 with perennial champion Kansas.

The race was deadlocked at the top after 10th-ranked Tech defeated TCU in Fort Worth, 83-71, and Oklahoma State beat No. 7 Kansas in Lawrence, 84-79.

It was the fourth straight win for the Red Raiders.

Big 12 leaders after Saturday night:

Texas Tech 7-3, 19-4
Kansas 7-3, 18-5
W. Virginia 6-4, 17-6
Oklahoma 6-4, 16-6
Kansas State 5-5, 16-7
Texas 5-5, 15-8

Other scores from around the conference:
Texas 79, Oklahoma 74
West Virginia 89, Kansas State 51
Baylor 81, Iowa State 67