Texas Tech Men's Basketball Wins Tight Battle with Boston College

Texas Tech Men's Basketball Wins Tight Battle with Boston College

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Keenan Evans and Zach Smith pumped in 25 of their 40 points during the second half to vault the Texas Tech men’s basketball team to a 75-64 victory over Boston College in Saturday’s semifinals of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tournament at the Mohegan Sun Arena. 


The Red Raiders (3-0) have won their first three games of the season for the first time since 2012-13 and advance to take on No. 20 Northwestern in the championship round. Sunday’s tip time is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. CT televised by ESPN2 and available on the Watch ESPN app.


Texas Tech snapped a two-game losing streak to the Eagles (3-1) who knocked out the Red Raiders in the 1985 and 2007 NCAA Tournament First Round. The program also captured its first win over an ACC opponent since an 80-72 victory over Georgia Tech during the 2003 NIT Quarterfinals.  


“It was a great game for us,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “I’m really happy for the players to win a game like this early in the season. It felt almost like a Big 12 type atmosphere. We have a lot of respect for Boston College. Today, Keenan [Evans] and Zach [Smith] looked like All-Conference type players and like seniors trying to get something done during their senior year. I thought they played great. We are a team so it’s always going to be a different guy stepping up on each night. I thought Jarrett Culver played like a junior today. He didn’t look like a freshman out there and played great. We had some timely plays like Justin Gray’s dunk, and Brandone Francis hit some shots. Niem got us started in the second half so a real team effort.”


Evans went to work and tallied 14 of his career-high 29 points over the last 10:46 of the contest. It was his 10th career game of 20-plus points, and the senior guard improved his streak to 23 consecutive games in double figures, the most for a Red Raider since Rayford Young accomplished the feat during the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons. 


Evans was 9-of-16 from the floor and a flawless 10-of-10 at the free throw line. He moved within four points of Steve Miles (1988-91) for 40th place on the program’s all-time scoring list and heads into Sunday’s action nine points of reaching 1,000 for his career.  


Smith nearly secured a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. He also chipped in three assists, three blocks and a steal. The Plano native has racked up six rejections during his last two games and his 142 career blocks are 20 shy of Tony Battie’s (1995-97) program record. 


Jarrett Culver, Brandone Francis and Zhaire Smith were solid off the bench and enabled the Red Raiders to score 28 of the game’s 34 bench points. The trio garnered 20 of their 28 points in the opening 20 minutes. Texas Tech has outscored its opponents by a 117-40 margin in bench points over its first three games.   


Culver managed 11 points for the second straight game and added five rebounds coupled with two blocks, while Francis also has picked up eight points in back-to-back points. Smith tucked away six points, four rebounds and a block. 


Niem Stevenson came away with four points and two steals followed by Justin Gray with three points and three rebounds.    


The Red Raiders compiled a 27-for-61 shooting effort and sank a quartet of three-pointers during the first half. Texas Tech hit on 17-for-24 at the free throw line and forced Boston College into a season’s high 18 turnovers. The Red Raiders held a 21-10 advantage in points off turnovers. 


Boston College was 23-of-53 from the floor and misfired on 16 of its 19 attempts from beyond the three-point line. The Eagles were 15-of-22 on free throws. All five members of the BC starting five reached double figures headed by Ky Bowman’s 15 points, five rebounds and four assists. The Eagles also received 12 points and seven rebounds from Nik Popovic.  


All square at 11-11 at the 14:05 mark of the opening half, the Red Raiders surged ahead by double figures with a 14-2 spurt over the next 4:45 off the clock. 


Culver got the flurry going with a triple on the right baseline. Then, Evans drove hard to the basket and finished with a reverse layup, and Francis added a putback on a second-chance opportunity. After another Evans layup, Davide Moretti canned a three-pointer from the left wing. Zhaire Smith capped the run with a reverse dunk in transition following a Stevenson steal to make it 25-13.


Boston College fired back with 18 of the next 23 points and took a 31-30 edge heading into the final minute. Zach Smith put the Red Raiders ahead for good with an and-one layup driving baseline. On the next possession, Zach Smith found Francis for a triple to give Texas Tech a 36-31 halftime advantage. 


The Red Raiders had an answer each time the Eagles got within a single possession. Up 48-45 with 11:19 remaining, Evans hit a 10-foot left-handed runner to beat the shot clock. At 50-47, Evans got a fastbreak layup from Zach Smith off a turnover. 


Two additional key plays came on putback dunks on back-to-back possessions from Zach Smith and Gray with 5:25 and 4:40 left to extend a three-point edge to five points.  


Texas Tech salted the game away with a 10-1 finishing kick over the final 2:40. With a 65-63 advantage, Zach Smith buried a jump hook off a pick-and-pop play from Evans. After Boston College split a pair of free throws, Evans used a pump fake to get his defender in the air to score a layup to put Texas Tech up by a 69-64 margin. 


Inside the final minute out of a timeout, Zach Smith tossed a perfect home run pass to a wide open Zhaire Smith for an uncontested layup. The Red Raiders hit on 4-of-6 at the charity stripe to finish off the 11-point win.    


“We get a chance to have a quick turnaround,” Beard said. “We are going to be in a situation later on in the season whether it be the Big 12 Tournament or maybe the national tournament. It will be a quick prep for us, and we will see how our guys respond.”


Texas Tech will be seeking the program’s first regular season tournament title since going 3-0 in 2009-10 at the Dual in the Desert in Lubbock. The Red Raiders face No. 20 Northwestern in Sunday’s final with tipoff slated for 4:30 p.m. CT. 


Sunday’s matchup is televised by ESPN2 and is available on the Watch ESPN app from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. John Brinkley and Chris Spatola will serve as the announcing team.

Courtesy of Texas Tech Athletics Communications Department.

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