For the first time in 13 years, Texas Tech basketball will be playing in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. They had to outlast a feisty Florida Gators squad to get there.
Senior stud Keenan Evans once again led the way for the Red Raiders by pouring in 22 points and continually breaking down the Gators defense. But, the freshmen Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith were the ones who stole the show. The two combined for 29 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Florida was paced by their guards Jalen Hudson, Chris Chiozza, and Egor Koulechov. The trio accounted for 46 of Florida’s 66 points in the game.
The game was truly a back and forth affair. Both teams traded multiple runs, treating the lead like a see-saw. Tech was on the right end of the last major run, going up by five after a monster alley-oop from Evans to Smith. Although, it was anything but a easy race to the finish line. The Gators went the length of the floor for a quick layup with 25 seconds left, cutting the lead to three. On the ensuing inbounds, Evans turned the ball over while trying to split through a double-team.
The wild scramble that followed saw both Koulechov and KeVaughn Allen with open 3-point attempts. Lady luck was smiling on the Red Raiders as both shots came up short.
Tech’s victory puts an end to Florida’s streak of reaching at least the Sweet 16 in each of their last six NCAA Tournament appearances. Meanwhile, this is the Red Raiders first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2005. They will now travel to Boston to face Purdue.