After cruising through their first two games of the season, the Red Raiders looked like a force to be reckoned with. However, the likes of South Alabama and Maine don’t exactly provide the type of resistance that Texas Tech will face once conference play begins. Friday night’s match up against Boston College of the ACC provided the first real taste of what we can expect from the team this season.
The Red Raiders did not disappoint. They jumped out to an 11 point first half lead, but the Eagles climbed back to take a 31-30 lead. Texas Tech answered with a 6-0 run to finish the half and take the lead going into the break and never gave it back. This marked the first program win over an ACC opponent since 2003.
Keenan Evans was in attack mode all game. He routinely found his way into the paint where the senior guard knows how to finish and when has wasn’t finishing, Evans drew contact and found himself at the line for 10 free throw attempts where he didn’t miss. In total, he scored a healthy 29 points, which led all scorers in the game. Zach Smith tossed in 11 of his own points to go along with 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. Texas Tech’s bench production was stellar, as they outscored Boston College 28-6. Freshman Jarrett Culver provided the biggest scoring lift off the bench with 11 points. Texas Tech shot the 3-ball at a 50% clip in the first half, but couldn’t connect on any attempts in the second half. They ended the game shooting only 25% from beyond the arc.
The Eagles’ starters all scored in double figures, led by Ky Bowman’s 15 points, but the Red Raiders forced them into 18 turnovers and held them to 15.8% shooting from the 3-point line en route to a 75-64 victory.
After clipping the Eagles’ wings on Friday, the Red Raiders faced off against No. 20 Northwestern on Saturday for the championship game. Chris Beard’s group rose to the occasion with their best game to date on the young season. They ran the Wildcats out of the gym, winning 85-49, and I don’t know if the game was even that close. The 36 point rout was the widest margin of victory against a ranked opponent in program history. Keenan Evans led all scorers with 25 points and surpassed the 1000 career point plateau in the process. 3 more seniors, Zach Smith, Niam Stephenson, and Tommy Hamilton, also scored in double figures. The Red Raiders’ depth flexed its strength once again by outscoring Northwestern’s bench 25-14. Defensively, the more athletic Texas Tech stifled the Wildcats who shot just 26.7% from the field and were the third of Tech’s first four opponents to be held under 50 points scoring.
Senior leaders Keenan Evans and Zach Smith were both named to the All-Tournament team. This marks the first time Tech is bringing a championship trophy back to Lubbock since 2009 and has the Red Raiders primed to be ranked for the first time since 2010.