KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Keenan Evans piled up 18 of his team-leading 25 points during the second half, and the No. 14 Texas Tech men’s basketball team led wire-to-wire en route to a 73-69 victory over Texas in Thursday’s quarterfinal round at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships.
The Red Raiders (24-8) clinched the program’s first semifinals berth at the Big 12 Championships dating back to the 2005 season.
Texas Tech also ended a three-game losing streak to the Longhorns (19-14) and an overall five-game losing streak at the conference tournament. The Red Raiders advance to face either No. 19 West Virginia or Baylor. Friday’s tipoff is set for approximately 8 p.m. CT televised by ESPN2 and the ESPN app.
“I’m just really proud and happy for our players,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “It was one year ago we sat at this table, and we said we were going to do everything we could in the next 364 days to put ourselves in a better position. We've done that. I think you've got to give our players all the credit, including these two guys to my right (Keenan Evans and Tommy Hamilton IV). Two of our five seniors that have really had a special season. We just don't want it to end. We want to keep playing. I want to keep coaching these guys. I want to coach them two more times in Kansas City and six times in the NCAA Tournament. We have a lot of respect for Texas. They're a tough team. They've overcome a lot of adversity this year with the injuries, and I have a lot of respect for Shaka. They're an NCAA tournament team in my book, and they're a great team with a great coach. We’re pleased to win for a lot of reasons and our respect for Shaka and Texas is at the top of that list.”
For Evans, he was 7-of-10 from the floor and rattled home 9-of-14 at the free throw line. The Red Raiders improved to 11-1 this season and have won 17 of 21 games when Evans goes for 20 or more points.
The 25-point performance was the highest for a Texas Tech player since a 28-point effort from John Roberson versus Missouri on March 9, 2011. Evans also moved past Greg Lowery (1970-71-72) for 16th place on the program’s all-time list.
Jarrett Culver secured 13 points and 11 rebounds to tuck away his second career double-double. The trio of Tommy Hamilton IV, Zhaire Smith and Niem Stevenson added eight points apiece and accounted for a combined 11 rebounds.
As a team, Texas Tech hit on 26-of-55 from the floor and 9-of-16 on three-pointers. The Red Raiders were 12-of-18 at the charity stripe and won the battle of the boards by a 37-28 margin.
Texas connected for a 25-for-58 shooting performance which included a 7-for-18 mark from three-point territory. The Longhorns were an efficient 12-for-15 on free throws.
Jacob Young dialed up a career-high 29 points fueled by six treys. Matt Coleman tacked on 20 points and four assists, while Mohamed Bamba notched 10 points and four rebounds off the bench.
Texas Tech started strong on both ends of the floor and built a 22-8 advantage over the opening 10 minutes. The Red Raiders forced Texas to misfire on 13 of its first 14 shot attempts.
Culver ripped off the game’s first seven points with a pair of driving layups and a three-ball on the right wing. Then, Smith tacked on a layup to make it 9-0 with 16:17 remaining.
The Red Raiders stretched it to 22-8 on an Evans triple with 10:04 left. However, Texas was able to close the margin back to 35-28 at halftime after a Bamba trey as time expired.
The Longhorns pulled within 55-54 on a Coleman layup at the 6:24 mark of the second half. Following a timeout, Texas Tech regrouped behind a Hamilton IV midrange jumper off a shot fake and an acrobatic Smith tipin to go up 59-54 with 5:36 to go.
Texas made one final surge and closed back to 64-61 on a Bamba dunk from Coleman with 2:32 remaining. The Red Raiders turned to Evans who hit a late shot clock stepback jumper and tacked on two foul shots to extend the advantage back to 68-61 with 1:34 left.
He's one of the best players I've ever coached,” Beard said. “I think he's one of the best in the Big 12 that translates to him being one of the best players in college basketball. It's not just his talent. It's his
courage. He wants to be in those moments. He wants the ball in those moments, and it's been a maturation process for him. He started playing for Tubby and took a lot of bumps. He helped them get to the NCAA tournament as a sophomore. Last year he was a leader, All-Conference player and doubled up his numbers. Now this year, he's one of the best players in college basketball. Tonight, we've been in these situations before. He has the ability and the courage to take games over.”
Texas Tech faces off with the winner of the No. 19 West Virginia-Baylor contest during Friday’s semifinal round at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships. Tipoff is slated for approximately 8 p.m. CT from the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The game will be televised ESPN2 along with the ESPN app.
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.