Game Preview

Texas Tech and Texas will meet Thursday in one of four quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship and you'll have a hard time finding anyone around the Sprint Center in Kansas City calling the Red Raiders a favorite in the showdown despite their lofty national ranking.

The teams have already played twice this season, with each winning on their respective home floors in hotly contested games.

Texas beat the No. 14 Red Raiders 67-58 in Austin on Jan. 17 while Texas Tech outlasted the Longhorns 73-71 in overtime two weeks later in Lubbock. All that helped get both teams to where they were at the end of the regular season but matters little now.

"But when that ball goes up at 6 o'clock (Thursday) night, none of this stuff matters," Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. "Day off, bye, rankings, what happened last time -- hey, this is March. The most beautiful month of the year. So the best team's going to play and the best team's going to win."

Texas Tech (23-8) snapped a four-game losing streak in its final regular-season game while beating TCU 75-71 in Lubbock to capture second place in the Big 12.

Keenan Evans scored 23 points, all in the second half, in that win, returning after a four-game absence with a toe injury. He played only seven minutes and did not score in the first half, but was the Evans of old after halftime and showed why he's one of the favorites for conference player of the year.

"I wish we were completely healthy, but we're just not," Beard said. "We're no different than any team in college basketball in that regard, so it's certainly not an excuse. We're about as healthy as we've been in a long time. I got a lot of confidence in our roster."

Texas earned a spot opposite Texas Tech via a 68-64 victory over hapless, but determined, Iowa State in one of the tournament's two first-round games Wednesday. The Longhorns' victory likely clinched them a spot in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens in Kansas City the next three days.

Dylan Osetkowski scored 20 points to lead Texas, who played without freshman forward Mohamed Bamba. Bamba, a likely lottery pick in this year's NBA Draft, has missed the past 3 1/2 games with a toe injury and is questionable for Thursday.

The Longhorns were also without guard Eric Davis Jr., who is suspended as school compliance officials continue to investigate an alleged report that he took $1,500 from an agent.

"We just wanted to play the game in four-minute spurts and we fought to the last horn and did great," Osetkowski said afterward. "This is the Big 12 tournament. Down the line on this team everyone has a spirit and a fight that we needed to win.

"We knew this was a big one for us, but we will continue to take things one game at a time. Right now, we are turning our focus to Texas Tech."

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