LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech coach Chris Beard liked the feeling he got about the last game before March for his No. 18 Red Raiders.
A lot of players contributing in different ways, solid defense and a 68-59 win over No. 14 Texas on Saturday to end a three-game losing streak.
“Two teams trying really hard, felt like a last day of February-type game from our perspective,” Beard said. “For the first time in a while, we felt like we played stretches of Texas Tech basketball. We get the five guys in double figures scoring, the balance offensively. We had another low turnover game today …. and then our defense showed up the second half when we needed it most.”
Mac McClung had 16 points to lead the Red Raiders (15-8, 7-7 Big 12), and was one of six different players who scored scored in a 19-6 run to open the second half after the game was tied at the half. That spurt came over a nearly nine-minute span when the Longhorns got all of their points on free throws while missing 11 shots in a row.
Texas Tech had its largest lead at 52-39 on a jumper by Marcus Santos-Silva with 11:29 left in the game. The Longhorns (14-7, 8-6) finally got that first field goal of the second half when Brock Cunningham made a 3-pointer.
“They played with a really good edge today, they played like a team that truly had the gift of desperation,” Longhorns coach Shaka Smart said. “And this time of year, that’s a huge, huge advantage.”
Terrence Shannon Jr. had 11 points for the Red Raiders, while Santos-Silva, Kyler Edwards and Kevin McCullar each had 10. Santos-Silva had nine rebounds as Tech won for the first time since Feb. 6 at Kansas State, a three-week span when they also had some games postponed because of COVID-19 issues for the opposing teams.
“It was a must win, having our backs against the wall,” Santos-Silva said. “And just it was just big because we were able to get back to having fun.”
Jericho Sims had 11 points to lead Texas, which played the first of four consecutive road games to end the regular season. That includes three makeup games next week. Matt Coleman III had 10 points.
McClung had only five points before halftime, when he made consecutive baskets after steals by McCullar as the Red Raiders scored eight points in just over a minute to take their first lead. McClung had a fastbreak layup and a 3-pointer that made it 25-24.
The Longhorns had their largest lead at 24-17 on a dunk by Andrew Jones with 6:09 left in the first half before Edwards hit a 3-pointer for Tech and McCullar had the consecutive steals.
Coleman’s long 3 from the right wing in front of the Texas Tech bench at the end of the first half tied the game, but the Longhorns were undone by the struggles out of the break.
“When they went on their run, they scored on either seven out of eight, or eight out of nine possessions. You can’t allow that on the road,” Smart said. “On the offensive end, even though we shot 50% in the first half. I thought the whole game was, we were forcing some shots before we needed to.”
Texas: The Longhorns have had some wild swings in their last three games. They blew a 19-point lead in the second half at home last Saturday in an 84-82 loss to No. 10 West Virginia, then Tuesday had their biggest comeback of the season – from 14 points down to beat No. 17 Kansas and complete their first regular season series sweep of the Jayhawks. Texas could overcome a 13-point deficit in Lubbock, but did get within 59-56 after a dunk by Sims, then a steal by Courtney Ramey that led to a 3-pointer by Jones.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders head into March and their three makeup games – at home against TCU and Iowa State before going to No. 2 Baylor – finally back at .500 in Big 12 play. They have won seven of eight against the Longhorns, including in Austin on Jan. 13 when McClung hit a long-range jumper with 3 seconds left for a 79-77 win.
The Longhorns and Red Raiders could be ranked closer to each other, with Texas likely to drop a spot or two and Texas Tech maybe moving up a spot or two.