No. 18 Texas Tech falls to No. 15 Kentucky in overtime

Red Raider Nation

Photo credit: KLBK/KAMC’s Jason Davis

LUBBOCK, Texas — No. 18 Texas Tech showed fight throughout its game with No. 15 Kentucky. It battled through a size disadvantage, a cold shooting night and multiple deficits but ultimately fell short to the Wildcats 76-74 in overtime.

Down by nine with less than seven minutes left, Davide Moretti led Texas Tech on a last-ditch run, scoring six quick points to bring the Red Raiders within four points. After two Texas Tech layups and some tough stops on defense, Moretti tied the game with two free throws.

“They fight like heck,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said of the Red Raiders. “Even if we got up I expected them to make some kind of run.”

Two scoreless minutes passed before Kentucky’s Nick Richards broke the tie with a free throw. On the other end, Moretti was shoved in the back and split a pair to tie the game.

In overtime, Richards scored the first five points of the period and a Nate Sestina 3 gave the Wildcats a 72-66 lead, but the Red Raiders weren’t done. Kyler Edwards made a jumpshot and Terrence Shannon made four free throws, tying the game with 1:13 remaining.

On Kentucky’s next possession, Shannon committed a foul and Immanuel Quickly made both free throws. Texas Tech got the lead back and Moretti drove and dished to Kevin McCullar for an and-one. McCullar missed the free throw but got his own rebound. The game remained tied.

Shannon missed a layup on the second chance and T.J. Holyfield fouled Richards, who made both free throws. Moretti was stripped on the other end, sealing the game.

The teams played an exciting, back-and-forth first half in which Texas Tech’s effort and Chris Beard’s coaching kept the Red Raiders in the game.

Kyler Edwards had an exceptional start, scoring 10 quick points and blocking a shot. He made two 3-pointers in the game’s first five minutes. Texas Tech would not make another until fewer than five minutes remained in regulation.

Chris Beard turned to a secret weapon to spark a run before halftime. Seldom used seven-footer Russel Tchewa entered the game and immediately blocked a shot. On the other end, he scored two buckets and set a screen that opened up Chris Clarke for another. 

Whatever momentum Tchewa brought, Kentucky stole back before halftime. After Maxey flipped in a mid-range shot, Clarke threw away an inbounds pass and Kentucky’s Immanuel Quickley sank a halfcourt shot to give the Wildcats a 36-34 lead before halftime. 

“We had a miserable end to the first half,” Beard said. “That 5-0 swing in a lot of ways ended up being the difference in the game.”

Quickley gave the Red Raiders fits throughout the day. The sharpshooter punished them for leaving him open, finishing with 21 points. 

While he did the damage on the perimeter, stud big man Nick Richards dominated inside. He finished the day with 25 points and 14 rebounds, and led the charge as Kentucky grabbed 10 offensive boards on the day.

Stopping a team with Kentucky’s shot creation is tough one time, but the Wildcats were able to get second and third possessions with offensive rebounds.

“Part of their DNA is rebounding and it’s tough for us with some of the lineups we’re playing right now,” Beard said.

Texas Tech did grab 10 offensive rebounds of their own and somewhat evened up the rebounding battle despite their size disadvantage.

The Red Raiders did a good job on Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey, who is projected to be a top pick in next year’s NBA Draft. They played tight perimeter defense on Maxey and forced him to drive, where he didn’t look as comfortable. He scored just seven points and turned it over five times.

However, Texas Tech’s own star freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey was no better. He was nowhere to be found for much of the game, scoring just six points.

While Ramsey struggled, McCullar was excellent. He left the game in the first half after taking a hard fall, but returned and was his usual hustling self. He closed out the game for the Red Raiders and made a crucial layup in overtime.

Texas Tech has shown that it can play with the most talented teams in the country. It beat Louisville and played Kentucky hard for 45 minutes. Both teams played solid games and showed tremendous fight.

“It sucks that somebody has to lose a game like this,” Beard said.

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