Red Raider Recap: No. 18 Tech 85, No. 10 Kansas 73

Red Raider Recap: No. 18 Tech 85, No. 10 Kansas 73

Chris Beard Chris Beard

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The No. 18 Texas Tech men’s basketball team used a balanced scoring attack with five players in double figures, piled up a 44-29 rebounding edge and held No. 10 Kansas to a 6-of-26 shooting clip from three-point territory to claim an 85-73 victory on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Red Raiders (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) led wire-to-wire and kept their composure down the stretch by answering every run by the Jayhawks (11-3, 1-1 Big 12) to capture the program’s first victory at Allen Fieldhouse. The win also put a 16-game overall losing streak to Kansas which dated back to the 2009-10 season and handed the Jayhawks their first loss in a Big 12 home opener since 2006-07.

Texas Tech turned in the program’s fifth 2-0 start in Big 12 action and first dating back to the 2006-07 season when Chris Beard was an assistant coach on Bob Knight’s staff. The Red Raiders also tucked away their fourth win over an Associated Press Top 25 opponent to equal a program single-season mark with the 2004-05 and 2007-08 squads. Texas Tech also moved to 7-4 under Beard versus AP Top 25 foes. 

“In no way did I expect to beat Kansas on their home floor,” Beard said. “What I did expect was to play hard and to play well. I tell our guys all the time there’s two things you have to do to play at this level. It sounds real simple, but it’s not. You have to compete hard. Every possession has to have a life of its own, and you’ve got to be willing to do whatever it takes. We’ve done that all year long. Even when Seton Hall beat us, we played hard. We just didn’t play well. So, once you start playing hard, now you get into the next category where you have to play well. For us, that’s low turnovers, good shot selection, contest 3-point shots, overcome adversity. I did have some confidence tonight that we were going to do that. Win the game? No. Play well and give ourselves a chance to win the game? Yes.”

Keenan Evans piled up 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. He pushed his run to eight consecutive games in double figures and to 38 of his last 40 outings dating back to last season. The senior guard pulled to within five points of Ronald Ross (2002-03-04-05) for 25th place on the program’s all-time scoring list.

Norense Odiase grinded his way to 12 points, eight rebounds and two steals whereas Justin Gray got the Red Raiders rolling with 12 first half points coupled with six rebounds and three steals.

Texas Tech’s freshmen trio followed the lead of its veteran teammates as Jarrett Culver, Davide Moretti and Zhaire Smith came away with 17 of their combined 28 points during the second half. The Red Raiders garnered a 42-16 advantage in bench points.

Culver notched 12 points and hit on 5-of-6 at the free throw line. Smith managed 11 points and five rebounds to extend his streak to eight straight games with 10-plus points. Moretti secured five points and two assists.

Brandone Francis and Tommy Hamilton IV also provided a spark off the bench with seven points each. Niem Stevenson filled the box score with four points, six rebounds and four assists.

As a team, Texas Tech hit on 29-of-67 from the field which included a 6-of-24 effort on three-pointers. The Red Raiders buried 21-of-25 at the foul line which included a 16-of-19 mark during the second 20 minutes.

Kansas turned in a 25-for-55 shooting performance and misfired on 20 of its 26 attempts from beyond the three-point arch. The Jayhawks were held to a 0-for-12 clip in the second half. Kansas connected on 17-for-23 on its free throws.

Devonte’ Graham amassed 19 of his game-leading 27 points in the second half. He dished out six assists and sank all 13 of his free throw attempts. Udoka Azubuike chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds followed by Svi Mykhailuik’s 11 points, six rebounds and three steals.

Gray kickstarted the Red Raiders with a rhythm three-ball on the left baseline courtesy of a jump pass from a driving Stevenson. Then, Gray rattled home a midrange jumper from Stevenson to make it 5-0 at the 18:49 mark.

Ahead 8-5 with 16:54 remaining, Texas Tech surged ahead behind an 18-2 flurry over the next 6:09 off the clock. The Red Raiders showcased their balance as five players canned buckets.

Stevenson ignited the charge with a putback layup followed by a Culver who knocked down a stepback 17-footer and drained a triple off a nice bounce pass from Moretti. Evans tacked on a midrange jumper on the right baseline to push the score to 17-5 with 12:52 to go.

Odiase got into the act with an offensive putback and two-handed slam courtesy of Stevenson. Francis rose and fired in a 10-footer on the left baseline to give the Red Raiders their largest lead at 23-7 with 10:45 left.

Kansas crept back to single digits on multiple occasions, but Texas Tech answered each time. Zhaire Smith drove in and hit on a jumper just inside the free throw to bring the halftime tally to 43-32.

The second half was much like the closing 10 minutes of the opening half. The Red Raiders had a counterpunch for every Kansas spurt.

The Texas Tech lead was cut to six points on four separate times. Hamilton IV halted the first two charges during the opening five minutes of the second half. He used a spin move off a drive and sank a left-handed jump hook in the lane with 16:35 remaining. Then, Hamilton IV connected on a right wing trey 34 seconds later.

The Jayhawks pulled within 67-61 with 6:21 left. This time, Odiase was fouled after a steal and calmly stepped in to bury two free throws off a 1-and-1.

The Red Raiders stretched their advantage back into double figures when Evans tossed the ball to a high-flying Zhaire Smith for a slam dunk off an inbounds play to bring the scoreboard to 72-61 with 3:58 to go.

“It’s just something that we practice every day – to keep our composure no matter what,” Evans said. “Going into this game we were just trying to control the crowd, but once the crowd got going we knew that they would make big shots or dunks. We just always told ourselves during timeouts or on the floor, ‘Stay stone-faced, keep your composure and keep playing.’”

Texas Tech salted the game away with a Zhaire Smith slam which turned into a traditional three-point play, a combined 7-for-9 clip at the foul line and a Culver dunk in the closing 30 seconds.

“It’s obviously a big win for our program,” Beard said. “It starts with just winning a game in this league. It’s so hard to win games in the Big 12, and it’s extra hard to win on the road, so it starts with that. To say anything different than this would be wrong. It’s a special win because of how much respect we have for this program. Not just my friend Coach [Bill] Self and Norm [Roberts], but Coach [Roy] Williams before him. This is sacred ground in college basketball. To come in here and play well and to win, it just means a lot to our program. Nobody respects Kansas basketball more than us.”

UP NEXT

Texas Tech continues its stretch of three straight weekend home games to start Big 12 action when Kansas State visits the United Supermarkets Arena on Saturday.

Tip time is slated for 3 p.m. CT, and tickets can be purchased for as low as $15 online at www.TexasTech.com or at the United Supermarkets Arena Box Office which opens starting at 1 p.m. CT on gameday.

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. 

--TECH--

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