No. 24 Texas Tech rolls past Rice 73-53 on old home court
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Keenan Evans and No. 24 Texas Tech didn’t play very well on throwback night with alumni and former coaches watching.
It was good enough, though.
Evans scored 13 points, Zhaire Smith added 12 and the Red Raiders beat Rice 73-53 on Saturday night in their first game since 1999 at Lubbock Municipal Coliseum, their old home court.
Texas Tech held an alumni game before facing an old Southwest Conference opponent, then fell behind by eight points before holding the Owls (3-8) without a field goal for the final 11 minutes of the first half while taking the lead for good.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you guys this was special,” coach Chris Beard said. “This was cool. I’ve been telling myself and the team in the last two days to live in the moment. When Tony Battie walks in, it’s kind of hard to live in the moment.”
The Red Raiders (9-1) won their second straight as a ranked team, their first such victories in almost eight years. Texas Tech was ranked for a week before dropping out after a loss to Seton Hall and getting back in with over then-No. 22 Nevada.
Connor Cashaw had game highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds and was 5 of 8 from 3-point range for Rice.
Texas Tech’s last game at Lubbock Municipal Coliseum was a 78-68 loss to Colorado on Feb. 24, 1999. The old arena was across a parking lot from the football stadium when the Red Raiders used it. United Spirit Arena is on the other side of the Lubbock campus.
Niem Stevenson and Zach Smith scored 10 points apiece, and Jarrett Culver and Davide Moretti each had eight. Zach Smith and Culver were among four Red Raiders with a team-high five rebounds.
Texas Tech shot 63 percent in the second half to overcome 25 percent shooting from 3-point range for the game (4 of 16) and 33 percent on free throws (7 of 21).
“I kind of sense it in here. Even you guys don’t think we played great, but that’s expectations,” Beard said. “There was a time not too long ago where if Texas Tech won a game by 20-something points, it’s probably a great night. We’re starting to raise the expectations of our team, and I love it.”
Rice: Cashaw didn’t have much help. He was the only player in double figures and the rest of the Owls were just 11 of 33 from the field. With blowout losses to the likes of Georgia State, Texas-Arlington and Stephen F. Austin in non-conference, it could be a tough go in Conference USA.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders accomplished their goal of getting back in the Top 25, knowing they’d have a shot to stay there until the start of the rugged Big 12. There are two more non-conference games before conference opens with two teams currently ranked (Baylor and Kansas).
Beard was particularly pleased to see former coach James Dickey, among the visitors. “It’s like the first time I ever went and saw Bob Seger live,” Beard said. “I told myself, ‘Man, I can’t get all caught up. I want to kind of just be able to remember what happened.’ But I didn’t. I got all fired up and after the concert I couldn’t even remember what he played. Tonight, as much as I told myself and the players, ‘Hey, let’s just calm down and try to win a basketball game,’ there was some emotional stuff.”
Rice: At New Mexico on Tuesday.
Texas Tech: Home against Florida Atlantic on Tuesday.