The Red Raiders have won five Big 12 games in a row for the second time in program history.
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Keenan Evans led a balanced attack with a game-leading 19 points as four players collected double figures, and the No. 7 Texas Tech men’s basketball team used a suffocating second-half effort to secure a 66-47 road rout over Kansas State on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.
The victory enabled the Red Raiders (21-4, 9-3 Big 12) to jump into sole possession of first place in the Big 12 standings. Texas Tech’s 9-3 start in Big 12 action is the best in program history and the best conference start for the program since the 1995-96 team under James Dickey ran through the final season of the Southwest Conference with a 14-0 mark.
Texas Tech has registered wins in 21 of its first 25 games for the third time in program history. This year’s squad joins the 1953-54 team under Polk Robison which concluded the regular season with a 21-4 record. The 1995-96 team turned in a 30-1 start ignited by a program-record 23-game winning streak.
Texas Tech picked up its first regular season sweep of Kansas State (17-8, 6-6 Big 12) since the conference adopted the double round-robin format in 2011-12. The Red Raiders also captured the program’s first win in Manhattan going back to a 62-52 victory on Jan. 8, 2007 to end a seven-game losing streak.
The 19-point margin of victory was the largest for Texas Tech during a Big 12 road game. The previous mark was a trio of 18-point wins, most recently an 84-66 triumph at No. 21 Baylor on Feb. 13, 2016.
The Red Raiders limited K-State to 47 points, the lowest total by a Texas Tech opponent in a Big 12 game since limiting the Wildcats to 47 points on Feb. 4, 2015.
“We were pleased to win another Big 12 game today,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “These games are so hard to win with all the preparation, and you have to play well to win especially on the road in this league. I am happy for our guys. Defensively, we dialed in. I think we played our fullest 40 minutes defensively of the year. Offensively, we could not get much done in the first half. You can credit K-State for that. Things opened for us in the second half, and we were able to put enough points on the board to win.”
For Evans, he piled up 14 of his 19 sparked by a pair of traditional three-point plays during the second half. The reigning two-time Big 12 Player of the Week also grabbed a career-best five steals and provided three assists. Evans has pieced together double figures in his last six games and in 23 of 25 games this season.
Tommy Hamilton IV pumped in a season’s best 14 points fueled by a career-high four three-pointers. He was 5-of-6 from the field and hit on all four of treys. Hamilton IV’s previous season scoring mark was a 13-point outing versus Florida Atlantic on Dec. 19, 2017.
Zhaire Smith chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and four assists whereas his freshman running mate Jarrett Culver stuffed the stats sheet with 10 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two assists. The Smith-Culver duo has amassed a combined 31 games in double figures for the season.
Justin Gray worked his way to four points and four rebounds followed by Norense Odiase’s four points and two rebounds. Niem Stevenson tacked on two points, three rebounds and three assists.
As a team, Texas Tech knocked down 24-for-53 from the field which included a 7-for-15 clip from beyond the three-point line. The Red Raiders were 11-for-16 at the foul line and grinded their way to a 36-34 edge on the battle of the boards.
Texas Tech forced the Wildcats into 18 turnovers en route to 18 of the game’s 21 points off turnovers. The Red Raiders also managed a 26-16 advantage in paint points.
Kansas State was bottled up to a 13-of-45 shooting performance and misfired on 14 of its 17 three-point attempts. The Wildcats made 18-of-25 from the charity stripe. Dean Wade claimed his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Cartier Diarra and Xavier Sneed came away with nine points apiece.
All knotted up at 27-27 heading into the locker room, Texas Tech kicked it into high gear out of the locker room with a 15-1 spurt to seize momentum over the opening 5:01 of the stanza.
Evans started the barrage with a runner off glass on the first possession of the half. Then, Evans dished it to Odiase for a layup. Evans completed the first of two old school three-point plays to make it 34-27 with 16:50 remaining.
The Red Raiders kept rolling behind a Hamilton IV three-ball from the top of the key. Evans capped the flurry with a pair of free throws and finished another and-one with a left-handed runner through contact to build a 42-28 advantage at the 14:59 mark.
Kansas State inched its way back to 43-37 with 11:02 to go following a Sneed triple and a Wade layup 20 seconds apart.
The Red Raiders responded by turning defense into offense. Evans hit the floor for a diving steal, scooted the ball to Culver who flipped the ball over his head in stride to Smith for a two-handed slam to bring the tally to 49-39 with 9:19 on the clock.
That play sparked Texas Tech to nine consecutive points to put the game away. Hamilton IV drained another three-ball from the top of the key to extend the lead to 56-39 with 6:10 to go. The Red Raiders closed out the 66-47 win on a Gray layup courtesy of Stevenson.
The Wildcats began the contest with a 7-0 lead on the strength of a Sneed three-pointer, a Wade layup and a pair of Diarra free throws during the game’s opening 91 seconds.
Texas Tech trusted its process and made its move midway through the first half. Down 19-13, Hamilton IV dialed up a trey on the right wing from Culver. Then, Hamilton IV utilized the shot fake and drove to the basket for a finger roll. Evans used a screen and hit on a runner off glass to give the Red Raiders a 20-19 edge at the 5:57 mark. The two teams would go into the locker room all square at 27-27.
“Our coaching staff has a lot of experience,” Beard said. “Some of us have been in this position before so it is really important to lead our players. We have been trying to do everything we can to help the guys. The message they have gotten from us is it is one game at a time. In the Big 12, a two-game winning streak gets you right back into the fight. A two-game losing streak has you feeling like your life is over. We have experienced both. It is not the sexiest of answers, but it is the truth. We are just a program that prides ourselves in getting up every day and going to work. The next game on the schedule is our biggest game. You have to give a lot of credit to our players. I think they have bought into this identity, and they are the ones executing it.”
Highlights – http://texastech.com/watch/?Archive=14477
Coach Beard Press Conference – http://texastech.com/watch/?Archive=14478
Keenan Evans and Tommy Hamilton IV Press Conference – http://texastech.com/watch/?Archive=14475
Texas Tech returns home to face No. 17 Oklahoma as part of ESPN’s Super Tuesday. Tipoff is on-tap for 6 p.m. CT from the United Supermarkets Arena. The game will be televised by ESPN and the ESPN app.
Tickets to Tuesday’s game and all three of Texas Tech’s remaining home games are sold out. Doors open to the arena at 4:30 p.m. CT. Fans are encouraged to “White Out” the USA and are reminded to go clear at all Texas Tech basketball games. The clear bag policy provides a safer atmosphere and speeds up the entry process into the United Supermarkets Arena.
The post Texas Tech Men’s Basketball Recap: No. 7 Tech 66, Kansas State 47 appeared first on Rock 101.1.