NORMAN, Okla. – Keenan Evans secured 19 points and five rebounds, but the No. 8 Texas Tech men’s basketball team was unable to fend off a strong second half effort by No. 9 Oklahoma as the Sooners secured a 75-65 decision on Tuesday at the Lloyd Noble Center.
The Red Raiders (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) won the battle of the boards for a fourth consecutive Big 12 game by a 44-37 margin. Texas Tech also registered a 29-9 advantage in bench points and a 15-6 edge in second chance opportunities.
“Congratulations to Oklahoma,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “I’ve said it all week, and I feel like I could be Coach Kruger’s agent one day if coaching doesn’t work out for me. He’s just one of the best coaches in college basketball. So again tonight, all sorts of adjustments out there with things that were challenging to us. I’d like to take responsibility for this game in terms of coaching. We’ve got to coach better and put our guys in a better position. but I think Oklahoma is a big reason. Congratulations to the players. Obviously, Trae (Young) gets a lot of attention these days which he deserves, but his supporting cast is really good. I’m sure there’s a couple NBA players in that group as well. Tonight was more about what Oklahoma did well than what we didn’t do well. Consistent with how we run our program, we’re going to show respect to the opponent.”
For Evans, the 19 points came on a 7-for-17 shooting effort. He extended his streak to 10 consecutive games in double figures and 14 of his 15 outings on the season.
Tommy Hamilton IV came away with his best all-around performance of conference play with nine points, nine rebounds and two assists.
Jarrett Culver added nine points and three rebounds whereas Brandone Francis secured eight points. For Francis, he has tallied 22 points over his last three appearances.
The Red Raiders received six points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals from Zhaire Smith who was made his first career start. Smith had his run of 10 straight games in double figures come to a close.
Norense Odiase filled the stats sheet with five points, nine rebounds and a trio of blocks. Niem Stevenson notched five points and four rebounds.
As a team, Texas Tech compiled a 25-for-67 shooting effort and hit on 6-for-25 from three-point territory. The Red Raiders were limited to a 3-for-19 clip on treys during the second 20 minutes. Texas Tech connected on 9-for-14 at the free throw line.
The Sooners countered with a 25-of-61 performance from the field and knocked down 7-of-22 on three’s. Oklahoma rattled home six of its seven treys in the second half. The Sooners also were 12-of-15 on free throws after halftime en route to an 18-of-21 overall effort.
Trae Young pumped in a game-leading 27 points, nine assists and four steals. He tallied 22 of his 27 following the intermission after being bottled up for a 1-for-12 shooting clip in the first half. Christian James chipped in 15 points followed by Khadeem Lattin’s 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks.
Texas Tech started the contest with a Stevenson layup and an Evans jumper before the Sooners responded with seven straight points to go up 7-4 at the 16:41 mark.
The Red Raiders would rip off an 11-2 spurt over the next 6:36 off the clock. Francis ignited the charge with a trey late shot clock off the dribble. Then, Hamilton IV cleaned the glass with an offensive putback Stevenson capped the flurry with a deep triple off the glass to make it 15-9 with 10:05 remaining.
Ahead 19-14 after an Odiase jump hook on the right baseline with 7:57 to go, Oklahoma scored eight points over a 1:52 span to regain the lead.
The two teams would back-and-forth before heading to the locker room. An Evans three-pointer at the top of the key placed the Red Raiders up 31-26 inside the final minute. However, the Sooners answered with a three-ball of their own to draw back to 31-29 at the break.
Oklahoma used that momentum and flipped the score in its favor with a 14-2 spurt out of the locker room. Young either scored or assisted on four of the six baskets. His three-pointer at the 14:31 mark brought the tally to 43-33.
The Red Raiders would trail by 12 at 55-43 with 9:41 left before making one last charge. An Evans jumper through contact and a Hamilton IV trey sliced a 63-54 advantage down to four points with 5:26 on the clock.
However, Young ballooned the Oklahoma lead back to nine points on two free throws and a trey during the next 36 seconds. The Sooners would hang on to win by 10 points and force a three-way tie for second place with Texas Tech and Kansas in the Big 12 standings.
“When you get the ball right at the rim and Khadeem Lattin blocks the shot, I don’t know if you can say the motion wasn’t working for us,” Beard said. “It’s just a guy making a play. I would’ve liked to have seen us play a little more inside out so I’ll just have to coach better in that regard. When you’re playing from behind, you kind of have a play-from-behind offense. There are times when you can’t keep doing what you do. We spread the floor a little bit and got it to the shooters. It was good for us, but we just didn’t make shots. We were 3-of-19 from three in the second half. If we go 7-of-19, we win the game. I thought our guys did a good job of executing on the fly. We tried to get a few more three-point shots, but we just didn’t make shots. Give Oklahoma credit, they are the reason we didn’t make shots. A lot were contested, they’re just a really good team.
Texas Tech welcomes No. 2 West Virginia to the United Supermarkets Arena to cap a stretch of four Top 25 opponents in its first five Big 12 contests. Tipoff is on-tap for 1 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised by ESPN along with the ESPN app.