LUBBOCK, Texas – The No. 21 Texas Tech men’s basketball team used a barrage of three-pointers coupled with a strong defensive effort during the second half and cruised to a 90-54 victory over Florida Atlantic on Tuesday at the United Supermarkets Arena.
The Red Raiders (10-1) utilized their most balance scoring performance of the season with six players in double figures and extended their nonconference home winning streak to 37 consecutive games which is the fourth-best streak in the nation.
“We expected a good game tonight, and that’s what it was especially early,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “Florida Atlantic is a good team. They’ve won six games already, and two of their losses were by one point. This is a team that about this time last year beat Ohio State. It starts with their coach. I have a lot of respect for him so we anticipated a good game. I thought in the first half we were fortunate to be up seven points at halftime. I was really proud of the way we finished the first half. I thought we played well in the first half too. We just missed some shots, and Florida Atlantic played great. I was really proud of our effort in the second half tonight especially mentally. Playing with a big lead and basically playing. For the first time this year, we played the second half all the way to the buzzer with a big lead. Low turnover game, check. Balance scouring with five or six guys in double figures, check. I thought we were dialed in mentally as well. It’s a good win tonight. I told the guys I’m really proud of them because of how good I think Florida Atlantic was. I think this will be a team that competes for the championship in their conference.”
Keenan Evans tucked away 15 points and dished out six assists. He has reached double figures in 10 of 11 games and distributed 30 assists over his last six games.
Davide Moretti amassed 10 of his season’s best 14 points off the bench during the second 20 minutes. He was an effective 6-of-9 from the floor and tacked on three rebounds along with two assists.
Tommy Hamilton IV worked his way to season-highs with 13 points and seven rebounds. He also did a majority of his damage with 11 points and five rebounds.
Niem Stevenson chipped in 12 points on a career-best four treys. He has garnered 10-plus points in five of his last six appearances.
Jarrett Culver filled the stat sheet with 11 points, four steals, three rebounds and two assists in his first career start. He has racked up 13 steals over his last four outings.
Zhaire Smith provided 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists. He has pushed his streak to six straight games in double figures.
Texas Tech knocked down 32-of-65 from the field and drained a Chris Beard era best 14 three-pointers. The Red Raiders canned 11 treys and limited FAU (6-5) to an 8-for-29 shooting clip in the second half. Tech forced the Owls into 19 turnovers and tallied a 22-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
Florida Atlantic countered with a 21-for-58 shooting effort and hit on 7-for-21 from triple territory. Justin Massey piled up 17 points whereas Ronald Delph notched 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Trailing 28-27 at the 4:47 mark of the first half, Texas Tech closed out the half with 13 of the 18 points to take a 40-33 edge into the locker room. A pair of Evans and Zhaire Smith free throws kick started the run followed by a Zhaire Smith slam in transition to make it 33-28 with 4:15 mark.
Then, Evans rattled home a three-ball and a driving lineup. Zhaire Smith capped the stanza with an offensive rebound to stretch the lead to seven into the locker room.
The Red Raiders picked up where they left off and pushed the lead to 15 points within the opening five minutes of the second half. Stevenson and Culver buried treys followed by a Culver steal which turned into a Justin Gray dunk in transition to put the scoreboard to 52-37 with 15:06 left.
Stevenson, Evans and Moretti banged home three-pointers inside a 1:27 stretch to extend the Texas Tech lead to 82-47 with 5:03 to go.
“Tommy is a player that when he plays confident, he’s really good,” Beard said. “I’ve got to do a better job of coaching him to the point that if he makes a mistake he can still play through it. If the game is just not coming to him stat-wise that he just keeps going. Whenever he has a little bit of success early tonight, he turns into a really good player. I think Tommy understand and embraces this too. Tommy’s playing on a team that if he loses the ball he’s got to get it back. Earlier in Tommy’s career whether it be on whatever level he’s been a guy that’s I got to make a play. It’s not selfishness at all with Tommy, he’s just trying to help his team. I say to him let the game come to you. I thought tonight especially with his three-point shots. These are uncontested shots when he made a pass and got it back, beautiful. Had an inside presence tonight which was nice to see, but it’s the same. Tommy been believing in the process and working hard. Tonight he had a good game statistical-wise. He’s been a really good player and unselfish person for us the majority of the season.”
Texas Tech will complete a stretch of four games in 10 days versus Abilene Christian on Friday before taking the holiday break. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. CT from the United Supermarkets Arena.
Fans are encouraged to take advantage of the $5 ticket special for the ACU game exclusively available on Thursday at www.TexasTech.com as part of the Wreck The Halls promotion.
Visit www.TexasTech.com for the latest news and information on the men's basketball program. Fans also can follow the program on its social media outlets by liking TexasTechMBB on Facebook along with following @TexasTechMBB on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.