Keenan Evans

John Weast/Getty Images

Evans scores 32, Texas Tech tops No. 22 Nevada 82-76 in OT

Leave a comment

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Texas Tech bounced back from a loss that knocked the Red Raiders out of the Top 25 by beating Nevada in the Wolf Pack’s first game in the poll in 10 years.

Keenan Evans scored 25 of his career-high 32 points in the second half and overtime and the Red Raiders rallied from 11 points down after halftime to beat No. 22 Nevada 82-76 on Tuesday night.

“Every game is big game to me but this one I guess was big because we’re trying to get back in the rankings,” said Zhaire Smith, who opened overtime with a dunk that put Texas Tech ahead for good. “That was a ranked team and if we didn’t win that, it was going to be hard to get back in the rankings until Big 12 play.”

Caleb Martin scored a season-high 28 points and twin brother Cody Martin matched his best of the season with 22 in the Wolf Pack’s first game as a ranked team since finishing the 2006-07 season at No. 15. Nevada (8-1) was off to its best start as a Division I school (since 1970).

The Red Raiders (7-1) went without a field goal for the final 5 minutes of regulation but made six straight free throws down the stretch, including two from Justin Gray with 23 seconds left to force overtime at 70-70.

Evans scored eight in the extra period, six on free throws as he went 13 of 19 from the line. The Red Raiders were 26 of 38 on free throws to 14 of 17 for the Wolf Pack.

“I thought free throws attempted was the difference in the game,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “I thought we shot the ball well enough to win. I thought we defended for sure.”

Evans had eight rebounds to lead the Red Raiders, who were coming off a loss to Seton Hall that knocked them out of the Top 25 the same week they got in.

Caleb Martin was 6 of 12 from 3-point range, including one that gave the Wolf Pack their biggest lead of the second half at 50-39 with just under 13 minutes to go. Martin had another 3 to get Nevada within two in overtime, but Smith answered with a layup.

“Patience isn’t one of my strengths,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I give our staff a lot of credit tonight. We didn’t have any panic timeouts. We didn’t really get negative. We stayed positive.”

Niem Stevenson scored 11 for Texas Tech, and Smith had 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Kendall Stephens scored 15 points for Nevada, and Jordan Caroline had a game-high 12 rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Nevada: It’s a disappointing return to the Top 25 for the Wolf Pack considering they were up 11 in the second half. But the Martin twins having their best game together was an encouraging sign. And Nevada was in position to win despite a poor shooting night from Caroline (2 of 9).

Texas Tech: This was probably the best test remaining for the Red Raiders before the start of Big 12 play. It might have been enough to get them back in the poll, and Beard was complimentary of a rowdy student turnout that he thought helped with the comeback.

TURNABOUT

The Wolf Pack had a season-high 21 turnovers after committing a season-low five in an otherwise ragged win at UC Irvine. “We’re a tired group,” Musselman said. “That’s our fifth road game. I thought as the game wore on, the toll of travel, we didn’t play very good at Irvine the other night.”

UP NEXT

Nevada: Another ranked opponent in No. 20 TCU on Friday on a neutral court in Los Angeles.

Texas Tech: Kennesaw State at home on Dec. 13.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Texas Tech pulls off another upset, beating No. 3 Oklahoma

AP Photo/Brad Tollefson
1 Comment

After picking up wins over two ranked teams in Iowa State and Baylor, Texas Tech entered Wednesday’s game against No. 3 Oklahoma in search of another quality win for its résumé. Sure enough Tubby Smith’s Red Raiders pulled it off, beating the Sooners 65-63 despite Oklahoma having two shots at the game-tying basket in the final seconds. Aaron Ross scored 17 points and Keenan Evans 14 for Texas Tech, but the key for them was what they were able to do defensively.

Oklahoma was unable to get out in transition for much of the night, and in the half-court they struggled to find the clean looks they’ve taken advantage of for most of this season. The Sooners shot 38.2 percent from the field and 6-for-23 from three, and Buddy Hield struggled as well.

Hield scored ten points in the first five minutes of the game. From that point on he managed to score just six, with the Red Raiders pestering him all night long. The national Player of the Year candidate began to press some as a result, leading to his turning the ball over five times. Add in Isaiah Cousins scoring ten points on 3-for-9 shooting and Ryan Spangler going for just five on 2-for-7 from the field, and Oklahoma didn’t have the offensive production it needed to win outside of Jordan Woodard’s 25-point effort.

Within a week’s time Texas Tech has gone from being a team well out of the NCAA tournament picture to one that has three quality wins many other bubble teams can’t match. Even with Toddrick Gotcher (who may have traveled in the final seconds) and Devaughntah Williams struggling offensively, Texas Tech went toe-to-toe with Oklahoma thanks to the contributions of others. Evans has been a much-improved player over the last four games, and forward Zach Smith added ten points and nine rebounds as he and Ross outplayed the Oklahoma front court.

As a result Texas Tech is beginning to add wins that will enhance a résumé that already looks good from a computer standpoint. The finish to the season won’t be easy, as the Red Raiders still have games on the road against No. 2 Kansas and No. 10 West Virginia to navigate.

That certainly looks daunting, but so did the three-game stretch Texas Tech just took on. And with the confidence that Tubby Smith’s team is playing with, anything is possible for the Red Raiders.