Texas Tech routs North Florida for Adams’ first win

Red Raider Nation

LUBBOCK, Texas — North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll took a timeout 103 seconds into his season-opening game against Texas Tech. Texas Tech players were flying around on defense, the crowd was deafening and the Red Raiders were leading 9-0. 

The picture-perfect start set the tone for what turned into a 89-74 Red Raider win Tuesday night in the first game of the Mark Adams era.

While Adams was known for engineering Texas Tech’s famous “no-middle” defense under Chris Beard, the team made its bones on the other side of the floor in his head coaching debut. 

The Red Raiders pushed the ball up the floor in transition, seeking out high-quality shots before the defense could get set. They made 51.5 percent of their shots, mostly attacking the paint rather than settling for jumpshots. 

UTEP transfer Bryson Williams was the primary benefactor of the layup-heavy approach, outmuscling UNF opponents to the tune of 22 points and seven rebounds, both of which were team-highs. He could have gone for even gaudier numbers if he wasn’t limited to 17 minutes by foul trouble.

Williams’ big day helped supplant the loss of Terrence Shannon Jr., who is being withheld amidst a review after he entered the 2021 NBA Draft but later withdrew his name. 

The roster is made up of several players who are returning to Texas Tech, but more, like Williams, in their first year after transferring in from other schools. Indeed, four of the team’s starters Tuesday came in through the transfer portal. 

Texas Tech scored in droves, but the Ospreys hung around for much of the game. They buried 11 3-pointers and made several small runs to prevent the game from getting out of hand.

One such run made the score 22-17 in the first half. That’s when the biggest name of Adams’ transfer class put his fingerprints on the game. Kevin Obanor, who helped 15-seeded Oral Roberts make a miraculous run to the Sweet 16 last season, sank 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Obanor tried another jumper the next time down the floor; it missed, but Hampton transfer Davion Warren cleaned it up, scoring two of his 14 points. 

That offensive rebound was one of 20 that the Red Raiders grabbed on the day. Texas Tech does not employ many traditional big men — only one player on the roster is taller than 6-8 — but it has plenty of length and athleticism, and the team attacked the glass with gusto. 

Texas Tech put the finishing touches on the win with an 11-0 run late in the second half. The spurt was capped off with a dunk from Netflix star and fan-favorite KJ Allen that made the crowd roar loud enough to make Driscoll proud.

Point guard duties were primarily split between Kevin McCullar and Mylik Wilson, who combined for 12 assists. McCullar moved into more of a lead ball handler role after primarily operating off-ball in each of the past two seasons. Wilson was a pure distributor Tuesday, taking three shots to go along with seven assists.

Wilson is one of eight transfers on the team, all of which saw the floor against UNF. There are plenty of unknowns as Adams embarks on his first season as the program’s head coach, but Tuesday’s smooth victory was a good sign for what’s to come.

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