It wasn’t the best of openings. But Texas Tech won’t be picky after surviving and advancing in their first game of its NCAA Tournament against Stephen F. Austin.
Despite a sputtering offense, the Red Raiders turned on their defense to claim a 70-60 victory over the Lumberjacks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The Lumberjacks led most of the game but their offense let them down late in the game. Stephen F. Austin produced one field goal in the final 7 minutes as the Red Raiders escaped with the victory.
Texas Tech improves to 25-9 with the victory. Stephen F. Austin finishes the season at 28-7.
3 who mattered
- Keenan Evans: Appearing close to full strength for the first time in several weeks, Tech’s leading scorer went for a team-high 23 points, 6 rebounds and a game-high 5 assists. He was particularly big in the second half when he scored 19 of his points as he hit all six field-goal attempts.
- Ivan Canete: With mother, a Cuban immigrant who was watching her son play for the first time, he came up with a big game. Canete scored a team-high 17 points
- Zhaire Smith: He provided a highlight reel for the ages and 10 points and a team-high 8 rebounds.
The turning point
Texas Tech during on the defense and erupted on a 17-7 run late in the game to win the game. Stephen F. Austin was limited without a field goal for the final 5:23 of the game.
- Stephen F. Austin’s defense has a way of making opponents look bad. We saw it Thursday night in the first half against Texas Tech when the Red Raiders were discombobulated by the defense. It forced Tech into shooting 35.7 percent from the field and an icy 16.7 percent of its threes.
- Early moment destined for “One Shining Moment” video: Zhaire Smith’s amazing 360 alley-oop dunk. Veteran analyst Kenny “The Jet” Smith said he had never seen a play quite like Smith’s slam midway through the first half.
- Credit Stephen F. Austin’s strength and conditioning staff to be ready for just about anything. When leading scorer Shannon Bogues went down with cramps in his right leg midway through the second half, the Lumberjacks’ staff was ready with pickle juice to settle him down. He was ready to return after 3 1/2 minutes on the bench. Most importantly, the Lumberjacks actually extended their lead from three to five points while he was out.
The number: 13
It was the first tournament victory for the Red Raiders in 13 seasons.
What’s next for Texas Tech basketball
The Red Raiders advance to Saturday’s second round in Dallas where they will meet the winner of the Florida-St. Bonaventure game later tonight. The next game will be played on Saturday at a time to be announced later.
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