LUBBOCK, Texas – Keenan Evans poured in 25 of his career-high 32 during the second half and overtime as the Texas Tech men’s basketball team upended No. 22 Nevada 82-76 in-front of a spirited 9,872 fans on Tuesday at the United Supermarkets Arena.
The Red Raiders (7-1) trailed for 36:53 of the contest and wiped away a 10-point hole with 11:16 left. Texas Tech also erased a five-point deficit over the closing 2:11 to force overtime. The Red Raiders scored the opening six points of the extra session and never trailed after that.
The win over Nevada (8-1) pushed Texas Tech’s nonconference home winning streak to 34 games which is tied for fourth-longest in the nation with Villanova. It also marked the Red Raiders second nonconference win over a Top 25 program. The last time Texas Tech accomplished that feat was during the 1996-97 season under James Dickey.
“We knew it was going to be a game just like this,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “It was everything I envisioned. Two teams that were playing really hard. I don’t think either team played great, but I think the other team was the reason that they didn’t. The big message tonight is I thought we had a great home court advantage. Our students came out, and they really impacted our team. Student attendance is a part of college basketball. I want to thank our students for showing up. That is what I envisioned when I was fortunate enough to get this job that every night we will have a home court advantage. I know I speak for everyone in the program – players, staff and everybody – that we really felt we had a home court advantage tonight because of our attendance.”
For Evans, the 32 points are a career-high and the second-most scored by a Texas Tech player under second-year coach Chris Beard. Anthony Livingston pumped in 33 points versus Rice last season.
The 32 points enabled Evans to climb past Leon Hill (1957-58-59), Geoff Huston (1976-77-78-79) and William Johnson (1973-74-75) into 32nd place on the program’s all-time scoring list. Evans also grabbed a career-best eight rebounds coupled with three assists and two steals.
Zhaire Smith turned in a solid all-around effort with 10 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists. He has provided double figures in three straight games and teamed with Evans for all 12 of Texas Tech’s points in overtime.
Niem Stevenson chipped in 11 points on 5-of-8 from the floor, while Davide Moretti registered all nine of his points during the second half. Tommy Hamilton IV garnered seven points in his first appearance off the bench this season.
Justin Gray notched six points and seven rebounds whereas Jarrett Culver added four points, seven rebounds and two steals. Zach Smith came away with three points and two blocks. One of Smith’s blocks came in a key sequence at the end of regulation to send the game to OT.
As a team, Texas Tech was 26-of-62 from the field and connected on 4-of-16 from three-point territory. The Red Raiders were 26-of-38 at the free throw line with 29 of their 38 attempts coming in the second half and in overtime. Texas Tech amassed 30 of the game’s 33 bench points.
Nevada countered going 25-for-59 shooting and canned a 12-for-30 shooting clip on three-pointers. The Wolf Pack were an efficient 14-for-17 on free throws. The Martin twins, Caleb and Cody, carried the load with 28 and 22 points, respectively. Kendall Stephens secured 15 points, and Jordan Caroline hauled down a game-leading 12 rebounds.
Facing a 51-41 deficit at the 11:16 mark of the second half, Texas Tech ripped off 18 of the next 25 points over the next 4:47 off the clock to turn the tables.
Evans rattled off 12 points during the stretch. He used a Culver screen and buried a trey on the left wing to bring the tally to 56-52 with 7:50 to go. Evans would tack on two more driving layups and found Moretti on the right baseline for a trey to vault the Red Raiders to a 59-58 edge with 5:51 left.
“I was proud of Keenan for a lot of different reasons, but one of them was the mental toughness,” Beard said. “I though early in the second half, he looked kind of tired to me. He was standing around on offense. I told him how I felt about that, and he took the coaching. That’s a grown man, and he wants to be coached. Then, late in the game, we just put the ball in his hands. I thought our spacing was great, and I thought some other guys around him make key plays.”
Nevada answered back and went ahead 69-64 on a traditional three-point play courtesy of Cody Martin with 2:11 remaining.
The Red Raiders had Evans, Moretti and Gray sink a pair of free throws down the stretch, and Zach Smith blocked a Caroline three-point attempt in the closing seconds to send the game into overtime.
Texas Tech raced out to a 76-70 advantage during the extra session. Zhaire Smith skied high for a dunk off a putback followed by an Evans midrange jumper and two free throws.
The Wolf Pack closed the gap to 78-76 on a Caleb Martin triple at the 1:06 mark. On the ensuing possession, Zhaire Smith drove late shot clock and hit a contested off-balanced layup through contact to push the Texas Tech lead back to two possessions. Two defensive stops and two Evans free throws inside the final 20 seconds sealed the six-point victory.
Nevada controlled the tempo early and knocked down four three-pointers during the game’s opening eight minutes to build an 18-8 lead. The Wolf Pack led wire-to-wire in the first half and took a 36-31 edge into the locker room. Caleb and Cody Martin piled up a combined 22 points for Nevada before half.
“Tonight, we had opportunistic defense,” Beard said. “We really couldn’t stop Nevada. They are so good, and they space you out. They have pro’s. You can’t guard some of those shots, it’s like Kobe Bryant out there. What we did is we made plays on defense. Sometimes, you have to go make a play on defense and risk maybe making a mistake. We played multiple defenses tonight, and we tried to speed them up a little bit. Nevada is really hard to guard, but I do think you have to give some of our guys some credit. I think the fact that we could make them turn it over a little more than their average, and you have to give our guys some credit for that.”
Texas Tech will take an eight-day break for final exams and will return to the hardwood against Kennesaw State from the Atlantic Sun Conference as part of a doubleheader with the Lady Raiders on Wednesday, December 13. Tip time is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised by FOX Sports Southwest Plus in addition to the FOX Sports Go App.
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