Defense key as No. 18 Red Raiders down No. 14 Longhorns for second time

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Texas Tech’s Kyler Edwards (11) controls the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Justin Rex)

LUBBOCK, Texas — No. 18 Texas Tech beat No. 14 Texas 68-59 Saturday to complete a sweep of the season series, and no Mac McClung heroics were necessary to get the job done this time.

The Red Raiders won the game by locking in on the defensive end in the second half, holding Texas to 20 percent shooting.  

Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey, two talented and experienced Longhorn guards, combined to shoot 3-18 for the game. No Longhorn scored more than 11 points.  

“We want to be the more aggressive team,” Chris Beard said. “If you sit back and hope that that team misses, it’s not going to work.”

The win brought Texas Tech to 7-7 in Big 12 play, and gave the team a much-needed triumph over another conference contender. 

The Red Raiders got off to a sleepy start to the game, turning the ball over four times in the contest’s first five minutes. Down 17-11, Terrence Shannon Jr. breathed some life into the team with one of his signature lefty tomahawks and Kevin McCullar followed with an and-one layup.  

“Whenever (Shannon) gets his dunks, he dunks it hard… the crowd goes wild and I feel like it messes up the other team,” Marcus Santos-Silva said.

It took McClung more than 14 minutes to score his first points on a layup, but he quickly followed that with a 3-pointer that gave Texas Tech a 25-24 lead, its first of the game. The Big 12 foes went back and forth until a Matt Coleman 3-pointer knotted the game up at 33 at halftime. 

When the two teams first met in Austin, McClung drilled a game-winning jump shot with 3 seconds remaining in the game, giving the Red Raiders their biggest win of the season. 

Saturday, a balanced scoring effort did the trick. Five different Red Raiders scored in double figures; McClung led the way with 16. 

Texas Tech made a run early in the second half, pushing the pace off of misses to generate quality looks. Freshman Chibuzo Agbo had a hand in the 7-0 stretch, blocking a shot to set up a Shannon layup and scoring himself off a feed from Micah Peavy. 

The Longhorns’ main problems came on the other end. It took them nearly nine minutes to make their first basket of the half, at which point they found themselves down 52-42. 

Texas Tech’s lead got up to as many as 13 points in the second half, but Texas’ offense briefly snapped into form after a dry spell to start the half. Andrew Jones drained a 3-pointer with 3:20 remaining to cut the Red Raider lead to 59-56. 

The Longhorns have a trio of big, athletic forwards who are adept at finishing around the rim. In the first half, senior forward Jericho Sims caught the ball in the post and pushed past freshman Tyreek Smith easily for a first half dunk. 

The size disadvantage prompted Chris Beard to bring in 7-foot-1 freshman Vladislav Goldin in the first half, but he nixed the experiment after Goldin caught the ball and hesitated under the basket, allowing Sims to force him into a missed layup. 

Sims had six quick points, but the Red Raiders stiffened up inside after that. They outscored Texas in the paint 32-20 and snagged more rebounds than the Longhorns. Marcus Santos-Silva played 32 minutes and did not commit a foul, reversing an issue that had troubled him in recent games.

“We were saying the whole time, they’re more athletic than us,” Santos-Silva said. “But all we’ve got to do is show heart and be tough and compete.”

The Texas Tech win snapped a three-game losing streak heading into winnable home games against Iowa State and TCU. It was a victory over another elite Big 12 squad that the team sorely needed after falling to Oklahoma State in overtime Monday.

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April 22 2021 09:00 am