No. 13 Texas Tech knocks off Kansas State 73-62

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Texas Tech’s Kevin McCullar (15) passes the ball around Kansas State’s Selton Miguel (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

MANHATTAN, Kansas — It wasn’t pretty, but No. 13 Texas Tech improved to 6-4 in Big 12 play with a 73-62 win over Kansas State Saturday. 

Texas Tech was not able to blow away the lowly Wildcats, but did enough to keep its lead just out of K-State’s reach. 

The Red Raiders played a rare game in which they shot the ball better from beyond the 3-point line than they did inside of it. They finished just 45 percent on 2-pointers, but sank 10 of 20 shots from 3-point range.

Mac McClung led the way with 23 points, including an “exclamation point” dunk for the Red Raiders’ final points of the game.

No Red Raider besides McClung made more than one field goal in the first half, allowing Kansas State to keep the game close despite its own struggles scoring the ball. 

At the under-8:00 timeout in the first half, the Red Raiders held a 14-11 lead. A scoring flurry capped off by a Clarence Nadolny jump shot made the count 30-25 in favor of Texas Tech going into the break. 

In the second half, both offenses picked up, and McClung’s teammates give him some help in closing out the game. 

Kyler Edwards and Kevin McCullar both made two 3-pointers in the second half, and the two players combined for 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. 

Their production was needed, because the Red Raiders did not have Terrence Shannon Jr. at full strength. Shannon, the team’s second-leading scorer, remained on the bench until 15:49 remained in the second half. The ESPN+ telecast said his first half absence was injury-related. 

After Shannon finally did come in, the sleepy Red Raiders showed some life, breaking off a 10-1 run to take their first double digit lead of the game. Shannon played a smattering of minutes and scored only two points.

Tyreek Smith, who corralled eight rebounds in a season-high 13 minutes against Oklahoma Monday, gave Texas Tech more solid minutes Saturday. 

Smith’s bounce makes him a frightening rim protector, and he swatted three Wildcat shots on the afternoon. With the two teams locked in a tight battle in the second half, Smith hit his second 3-pointer of the season and grabbed a steal, which led to two free throws.

Smith, Nadolny and Chibuzo Agbo have all seen increased playing time since the Red Raiders had a eight-day stretch without a game due to opponents’ COVID-19 issues.

An 11-point win over the cellar-dwelling Wildcats won’t turn any heads, but the Red Raiders leapt over No. 6 Texas and into fourth place in the Big 12 standings with the win.

The road ahead is challenging, as Texas Tech will play No. 17 West Virginia and No. 2 Baylor in their next two times out.

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