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Texas Tech adds some new pieces for next season

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Texas Tech has stayed active on the recruiting trail the last few days as they’ve reeled in two commitments for next season.

The Red Raiders brought in junior college wing Deshawn Corprew and Italian point guard Davide Moretti in recent days as they’ve added more depth to their backcourt for next season.

The 6-foot-5 Corprew is intriguing because he is a former top-100 national prospect who has three years of eligibility remaining. If Corprew can make an impact then Texas Tech might have themselves a rugged and physical guard who can

The 6-foot-3 Moretti made a name for himself at the FIBA U18 European Championships in 2016 as he’ll have a chance to earn minutes at point. Moretti put up 14.9 points, 5.0 assists and shot 45 percent from three-point range during that FIBA event last summer, so if he shoots the ball like that, he could also see time as another floor spacer for the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech has a chance to be an intriguing team next season thanks to their depth and some new additions.

Texas Tech forward Zach Smith returns to school after withdrawing from NBA Draft

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Texas Tech forward Zach Smith will return for his senior season, the school confirmed on Monday.

The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the most intriguing athletes in college basketball as he’s been a double-figure scorer for the Red Raiders the past two seasons. As a junior, Smith put up 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as he shot 50 percent from the field.

Three-point shooting was something that Smith improved dramatically last season as he increased it to 39 percent in a small sample size. If Smith can continue to show that he’s a perimeter shooting threat then he could be an ideal three-and-d candidate at the pro level.

By returning to Texas Tech, Smith gives head coach Chris Beard a potential all-league candidate who should be counted on to be a double-double threat next season.

 

Josh Jackson’s monster game leads No. 3 Kansas past Texas Tech

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Freshman Josh Jackson took over after senior Frank Mason fouled out as No. 3 Kansas held off Texas Tech, 80-79, for a Big 12 road win.

Jackson took an isolation and was fouled with 2.8 seconds left, making the game-winning free throw and finishing with a career-high 31 points. The freshman also added 12 rebounds and four assists, going 12-for-15 from the field.

Jackson took over the game down the stretch and willed Kansas to a road win when Mason only played 26 minutes and was held to 12 points. It was the type of performance that could be talked about on draft night because Jackson put together one of the most complete efforts we’re going to see all season. He looked completely in rhythm offensively and didn’t force anything as he was ruthlessly efficient and calm throughout a tense game.

Even after Mason fouled out, Jackson took over and scored multiple buckets and that has to give head coach Bill Self a lot of confidence this late in the season. It means that Kansas doesn’t need to rely solely on Mason to help win close games and it appears Jackson could be turning a corner heading into a monster final stretch.

This type of game is the reason many ranked Jackson near No. 1 in this loaded Class of 2016. He was that good on Saturday.

Landen Lucas also added 13 points and four rebounds for the Jayhawks while LaGerald Vick gave some solid minutes of the bench to finish with nine points. Vick played more crunch-time minutes as a defensive presence and he could also be counted on more down the stretch in close games if he plays like this.

The win also keeps Kansas (22-3, 10-2) in first place in the Big 12 standings after Baylor won earlier in the day over TCU.

Texas Tech (16-9, 4-8) went with the Iowa State approach of having three players have big games but the ultimately fell short against the Jayhawks. Keenan Evans (25 points), Niem Stevenson (22 points) and Zach Smith (21 points) all had solid outings for the Red Raiders but the rest of the roster only contributed 11 points. You do get the feeling, however, that Kansas might have been in trouble if this game went to overtime but Texas Tech never got that chance.

This was a crucial opportunity for Texas Tech to land a signature win over a top-five opponent but they fell short. Head coach Chris Beard will have to get his team together for another win that could put them in the tournament. The Red Raiders certainly looked like a NCAA tournament team and that was including off-nights from much of the roster besides the three 20-point scorers.

Texas Tech has back-to-back games against Baylor and West Virginia after this, so they’ll get more shots to win big games to help their postseason status.

Motley leads No. 5 Baylor again in 65-61 win over Texas Tech

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WACO, Texas (AP) Johnathan Motley scored 25 points and No. 5 Baylor held on to beat Texas Tech 65-61 on Wednesday night for the Bears’ 13th straight home victory.

A week after getting a career-high 32 points against Texas, Motley was 15 of 16 on free throws as the Bears (19-1, 7-1 Big 12) pulled even with second-ranked Kansas atop the Big 12 standings with a 26-9 advantage at the free throw line. Baylor attempted 28 free throws to 10 for the Red Raiders.

A night after three of the top four teams in the Top 25 lost, the Bears won their fourth straight since their only loss right after reaching No. 1 for the first time in school history.

Justin Gray scored 12 points for the Red Raiders (14-6, 3-5), who dropped to 2-2 against ranked teams in Big 12 play. It was their second straight loss after a 17-game home winning streak ended with Oklahoma State’s first conference win following six losses.

The Red Raiders had a chance to tie or go ahead trailing 63-61 in the final seconds, but Ishmail Wainright blocked a deep 3-point try by Keenan Evans. The Bears started celebrating a win, but the whistle blew with 0.5 seconds left.

After a discussion, officials ruled a jump ball on an inadvertent whistle, awarding Baylor possession. Niem Stephenson fouled Baylor’s Al Freeman before the ball was thrown in, and Freeman made both free throws to clinch the win.

Motley was 5 of 12 from the field to help Baylor overcome season lows of 17 field goals and 35 percent shooting. The 6-foot-10 forward also had a big block on Evans with Texas Tech trailing 56-54 with 2:52 remaining. Manu Lecomte hit a 3-pointer at the other end.

The Bears shot 16 free throws in the first half before the Red Raiders attempted their first, but Texas Tech trailed by just one by limiting Baylor to just seven field goals and 32 percent shooting before halftime.

The Red Raiders recovered from a 12-2 deficit to take their first lead on their first free throws, two from Aaron Ross for a 29-28 edge with 1:24 remaining in the first half.

BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders bounced back from their worst game by showing that their two wins in three games against ranked teams in Big 12 play weren’t a fluke. They’re unlikely to be an easy win in conference.

Baylor: After getting blown out at West Virginia immediately after surging to the top of the AP poll, the Bears have shown some staying power by getting another winning streak going.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech: After hosting LSU in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday, the Red Raiders visit Texas next Wednesday.

Baylor: After a Big 12/SEC trip to Mississippi, the Bears play at Kansas for the Big 12 lead next Wednesday.

Corrects previous version with Baylor awarded possession instead of jump ball at midcourt.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Memphis to hire Texas Tech’s Tubby Smith

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Just about a week after Josh Pastner made the decision to move from Memphis to Georgia Tech to take its head coaching position, Memphis has found the next leader of its program.

As first reported by CBSSports.com, Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith has agreed to become the next head coach at Memphis.

Smith’s move comes after three years in Lubbock, with the Red Raiders reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007 this past season. Smith has led five programs to the NCAA tournament as a head coach, and in 1998 won a national title at Kentucky.

He arrives in Memphis with some talent to work with, led by the American Athletic Conference’s top freshman in forward Dedric Lawson. Lawson’s brother K.J., who missed most of this season due to injury, will be back in the fold as well. But there are some holes to fill on the roster, most notably in the backcourt as four seniors have moved on and Avery Woodson decided to transfer. The first open evaluation period of the spring begins Friday, so getting this move done before then was important for Memphis from a recruiting standpoint.

Under Pastner Memphis reached the NCAA tournament four times, with the most recent trip coming in 2014. But they won just two games in those four trips, failing to get out of the first weekend. That’s the task for Smith, who moves to a league that while solid at the top does not have the depth that the Big 12 boasted. That should make the process of contending for (and winning) conference titles more manageable that it would have been had he remained in Lubbock.

No. 10 West Virginia routs Texas Tech on senior night

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Jaysean Paige was introduced on Senior Night at West Virginia as the “country’s best sixth man.” He certainly may be the Mountaineers’ best man in some time.

Paige and Daxter Miles Jr. each scored 15 points and No. 10 West Virginia closed out its home regular season on senior night Wednesday by trouncing Texas Tech 90-68.

Paige was honored pregame with fellow seniors Jonathan Holton and Richard Romeo III. He connected on 7 of 15 field goals, grabbed five rebounds and had five assists.

A sixth man, Paige was averaging a team-leading 14.3 points per game heading into this Big 12 conference game. No reserve has ever led the Mountaineers in scoring.

“It felt great,” Paige said of the introduction. “All the work I put in and it’s paying off. Just to be acknowledged for something like that in a conference like this means a lot. It builds you up, but you still got a lot to go. I’m just happy where I am and there’s still room to get better.”

Miles broke a slump which had seen him score just a total of 14 points in his last four games. He missed two games with a bad hamstring during the slump. Holton grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.

“I’ve just been hitting the gym. I’ve been working on my shot with Coach (Bob) Huggins,” said Miles.

The victory for the Mountaineers (23-7, 12-5) keeps them in sole possession of second place in the Big 12 with a game to go at No. 19 Baylor Saturday. No. 6 Oklahoma swept WVU this year and owns a tiebreaker if needed. The Sooners are 11-6 in the league and will visit TCU to close the season.

Justin Gray’s 15 points and Aaron Ross’ 14 led the Red Raiders (18-11, 8-9).

“I thought we were just manhandled tonight,” said Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith. “I thought our kids shot the ball OK, did some things well. We just couldn’t defend the post like we wanted to.”

WVU’s six conference wins represent its most ever in the Big 12, which it joined in 2012. Tech’s eight league wins are its most since 2006-07. Its 18 overall wins are the most since 2010.

The Mountaineers scored 12 straight points and led 36-22 with 2:41 to go in the first half. They finished the half ahead 41-26.

Tech shot 55 percent from the field, but WVU forced nine turnovers and outrebounded the visitors by 14. The Mountaineers were 12-0 on the offensive board.

West Virginia’s biggest lead came with 4:52 to go at 82-55.

Texas Tech made only three baskets during nearly seven minutes of the second half.

The Mountaineers enjoyed a 34-7 advantage in points off 19 Red Raider turnovers.

“I thought we were a lot more active,” Huggins said. “We try to speed people up to make them play a little faster than they want to play. … The pressure forces you to play faster than you want, or if you really slow it down, I think it’s to our advantage because you don’t have nearly as much time,” said Huggins.

TIP-INS

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins picked up his 788th career win in 34 years. He trailed Coastal Carolina’s Cliff Ellis by one game for ninth place all-time coming into the Texas Tech game. Meanwhile, Texas Tech veteran coach Tubby Smith is 556-274 in 25 years.

UP NEXT

West Virginia visits Baylor Saturday in its regular-season finale.

Texas Tech closes out the season with its own senior day Saturday against Kansas State.