LUBBOCK, Texas – Keenan Evans pumped in 17 of his game-leading 26 points during the second half, and four players piled up double figures for the second consecutive game as the No. 7 Texas Tech basketball team extended its winning streak to seven with an 88-78 victory over No. 23 Oklahoma on Tuesday in-front of sold out crowd at the United Supermarkets Arena.
The win allowed the Red Raiders (22-4, 10-3 Big 12) to stay in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 standings and a game up on 13-time defending regular season Kansas. It also marked Texas Tech’s sixth consecutive Big 12 victory, a program record. The previous mark was a five-game streak during the 2015-16 season.
The Red Raiders have secured wins in 22 of their first 26 games for only the second time in program history. Only the 1995-96 team under James Dickey started the season with a better record, a 30-1 mark sparked which was by a program-record 23-game winning streak.
Texas Tech has won its last four Big 12 games by double figures and a combined 59 points. The Red Raiders also improved to 4-1 in ranked vs. ranked matchups this season and to 9-1 in their last 10 games versus ranked opponents inside the United Supermarkets Arena. The home team has won the last six meetings with the Sooners (16-9, 6-7 Big 12).
“I just want to start by recognizing our crowd, a real home court advantage,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “I am sure Coach Kruger would say the same thing. Great fans tonight. We have students camping out and waiting in line all day long to get in. These are the kinds of things we envisioned when we came here when we thought about building the team to a championship contender. I can’t thank our student body enough.”
Obviously, a big win in the Big 12,” Beard continued. “They are all big, but this one especially because we have so much respect for Oklahoma, Coach Kruger and their players. I am just really happy for our guys. It was a gutsy game. We knew it was going to be a 40-minute game with Oklahoma. We knew we were going to have to play some good offense tonight too. You are not going to win against these guys by just guarding. You have to put the ball in the basket. I was really happy for our players tonight.”
For Evans, the 26 points enabled him to eclipse the 1,400 mark for his career. He was 9-of-15 from the floor and dialed up four three-pointers. Evans was able to surpass Dub Malaise (1964-65-66) and Jeff Taylor (1979-80-81-82) into 18th place on the program’s all-time scoring list. Texas Tech has won nine of 10 games this season and 15 of 19 career games when Evans reaches 20 points or more.
Norense Odiase racked up a season-high 14 points and grabbed four of five rebounds on the offensive end. His previous season’s best was a 12-point effort at then No. 10 Kansas on Jan. 2.
Niem Stevenson chipped in Big 12 season-highs of 12 points and seven rebounds over his 22 minutes of action. He also handed out three assists against zero turnovers. Stevenson’s previous Big 12 season scoring mark was an 11-point performance versus then No. 18 Baylor on Dec. 29.
Zhaire Smith came away with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists followed by Tommy Hamilton IV’s eight points and two steals.
Jarrett Culver notched seven points and three assists, while Brandone Francis and Justin Gray picked up four points apiece.
As a team, Texas Tech turned in a 30-for-62 shooting performance ignited by an 18-for-28 clip during the second half. The Red Raiders canned 11-for-21 on three-pointers and hit on 17-for-25 at the free throw line. Texas Tech grinded its way to a 33-32 rebounding advantage and a 34-32 edge in paint points.
The 88 points were a Big 12 single-game mark whereas the 11 treys matched a Big 12 single-game mark under Beard.
Oklahoma was 26-of-56 from the floor, 7-of-22 on treys and 19-of-25 on foul shots. The Sooners were fueled by Christian James’ 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
Trae Young provided 19 points and seven assists. The 19 points matched his second-lowest scoring output of the season. He misfired on 12 of his 16 shot attempts and all nine of his three-point attempts. Young was a flawless 11-of-11 on free throws. Kameron McGusty and Jamuni Mcneace added 13 and 11 points, respectively, for OU.
“The core definition of a coach is you want to try to help your players being in a position to win you want to give them all the information you can,” Beard said. “A guy like Trae just does so many things. You could probably help a little bit, but you can’t give them too much especially in a two-game prep. We just try to give out guys quality over quantity. Look, we were fortunate tonight. Trae doesn’t have many shooting nights like that, but I think you have to give out guys some credit because we contested shots. We made it tough on them at times in the game. We were fortunate as well, but I give our players all the credit. They took the information we gave them, and they used it to win the game.”
In a back-and-forth affair that featured 17 ties and 11 lead changes, the Red Raiders took the lead for good on an Evans three-ball from the right wing that broke a 66-66 tie at the 5:57 mark.
Odiase recovered a post catch, gathered himself and put home a layup to make it 71-68 with 4:09 left. On the next possession, Stevenson drove and dished to Odiase for another layup. He was fouled and made the free throw to compete the traditional three-point play to extend the advantage to six points.
At 74-71 with 2:38 to go, Stevenson provided a pair of clutch free throws after he nailed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the charity stripe. After an Oklahoma turnover, Stevenson rattled home a late shot clock triple on the left baseline to bring the score to 79-71 with 1:54 remaining.
Texas Tech connected on seven of its last eight free throws inside the last 46 seconds to tuck away the 10-point win.
“Each game is different, and tonight was certainly a grind it out back-and-forth game,” Beard said. “I think one of the big things tonight is we’re known as a defensive team. That’s our identity, but you’re not going to beat Oklahoma, those players and Coach Kruger by just getting stops. We knew in the second half in a lot of ways we were going to have to try to win this game with our offense. To shoot over 60 percent from the floor in the second half gave us a chance, and our defense just kind of held on. I thought tonight there were a lot of learning opportunities in the game, both offensively and defensively, to show our players. Above all, it’s a big win because it’s a Big 12 win in February protecting the home court. It’s playing against one of the best coaches in our game, and it’s playing against a team that has really good players.”
Texas Tech goes back on the road for consecutive outings starting with Baylor on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT from the Ferrell Center. The game will be televised by ESPNU and the ESPN app.