With Texas Tech leading Stephen F. Austin by four points in the game’s waning moments, Keenan Evans held the ball on the right wing.
A ballscreen came late in the shot clock for a quick-hitter look, but Evans’ defender iced the screen and the Red Raiders point guard was trapped.
Rather than fire off a panicked pass, Evans split the double team, drove to the rim and scooped in a layup to give Texas Tech a 66-60 lead and Stephen F. Austin its nail in the coffin.
Keenan Evans pic.twitter.com/xr6rPdjzLw
— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) March 16, 2018
In a heavyweight title fight of a first round matchup, Texas Tech beat Stephen F. Austin 70-60 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. All of that was thanks largely to Evans’ heroics in the final minutes.
Evans had 4 points and 2 rebounds in the final 65 seconds of Thursday’s win, swelling a late advantage that the Red Raiders had fought for all night.
In the game as a whole, Evans scored a game-high 23 points on 6-of-10 shooting while also going a perfect 10-of-10 on free throws. He also tallied 6 rebounds, 5 assists, a rebound and a block while only turning the ball over 3 times.
Even when Evans started the game cold — he was 0-of-4 in the first half — he still found a way to be on the delivering end of perhaps the best highlight of the NCAA Tournament’s first day.
Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans ➡️ Zhaire Smith for the unbelievable dunk.
— Jordan Hansen (@jordyhansen) March 15, 2018
Since he suffered a toe injury late in the Big 12 season, Evans’ play has been inconsistent at best. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the once-Big 12 Player of the Year candidate had been limited to 13-or-fewer points four of his last six outings.
But on Thursday, Evans returned once again to killer form buoyed by his supporting cast.
Uplifting Evans has been Texas Tech’s bench. The Red Raiders had 22 points off the bench against the Lumberjacks, including 9 from Zach Smith.
Smith was an eye-popping plus-25 in the 17 minutes he played.
Evans also proved to be the hero in one of the biggest signs of progress in Texas Tech’s revival on the court. The win on Thursday was the first for Texas Tech in the NCAA Tournament since 2005, when Bobby Knight was still pacing the sidelines.
So often in the NCAA Tournament, an elite point guard bears the load of a run to the Final Four. If Texas Tech’s win over Stephen F. Austin was any indication, Evans is ready to take on the weight.
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