Williams, Texas Tech Shoot Down Missouri St.

The Red Raiders defeated the Bears 80-68 Saturday at United Supermarkets Arena. Devaugntah Williams scored a career and team-high 18 points as Tech moved to 2-1 on the season with the win.

Texas Tech struggled a bit in the first half against Marcus Marshall and a red-hot Missouri State squad, but used intense defense and strong rebounding in the second to pull away to a 80-68 home win.

In the early going, however, it looked like Marshall, a 6-foot-3 guard from St. Paul, Minnesota, was going to take on the Red Raiders all by himself. He scored the Bears’ first 17 points, hitting his first five shots from the floor, four of which were 3-pointers. Marshall finished with 27 points, and when his first-half reign of terror ended, the visitors trailed 18-17 with 11:48 remaining.

The Red Raiders ever so slowly extended that advantage over the remainder of the half, leading by as many as nine points on a Toddrick Gotcher jumper with 3:27 to go. On Tech’s next possession, however, Devaugntah Williams missed the jump shot that would have given the Red Raiders a double-digit lead, and the resilient, strong-willed Bears began chipping away.

Over the final 2:45 of the half, MSU went on a 6-1 run that whittled Tech’s lead to 42-38 at the halftime buzzer. Rather than put the Bears away, the Red Raiders faltered down the stretch and gave life to their opponents.

At the break Missouri State was eight of 12 from three-point country, and that was the factor that kept the Bears close. The Red Raiders led in points in the paint 12-2, points off of turnovers 12-1, and in bench points 26-12. Deadeye Williams led Tech with 12 points at the break, while Toddrick Gotcher came off the bench to chip in seven points and four boards. The Red Raiders, normally a team that pilfers the ball prolifically, had only two steals in the first half. The Bears had a 13-12 advantage on the glass.

The second half was a very different story.

The Red Raiders used full-court pressure much of the second half, and although it did not produce a great many turnovers, it seemed to throw MSU out of rhythm. Whereas the Bears shot 50 percent in the first half, they hit only 37 percent of their field goals in the second.

And the Red Raiders absolutely pounded the visitors on the glass in the second stanza. On the boards Tech wrested away a 14-carom advantage and finished the contest with 15 offensive rebounds as against a paltry six for MSU. The Red Raiders missed many point blank opportunities, but their glass tenacity resulted in plentiful put-back attempts and fouls by the Bears. Tech shot 40 free throws for the game, connecting on 70 percent of them.

But Missouri State didn’t go down easily. Two Christian Kirk free throws with 11:26 to play made the score 57-51 Tech, and it was beginning to look like the game could go down to the wire. The Red Raiders had other ideas.

On a pair of freebies by Keenan Evans at the 10:07 mark the Red Raiders attained their first double-digit lead, 61-51. A free throw by Justin Gray with 6:15 to play staked Tech to a 70-56 advantage. The Bears narrowed the Red Raider lead to nine on an Austin Ruder layup at the 4:43 mark, but that was their last gasp.

Tech went on a 10-0 run over the next 2:40 to hold a 80-61 lead on Robert Turner’s layup with 2:03 to play. Turner was responsible for six of the points in that lethal run.

Norense Odiase was once again Tech’s “big man” with 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. He was also a perfect four of four from the field.

Williams was Tech’s high point man with 18. He connected on five of six 3-point attempts, and showed himself to be an excellent catch-and-shoot guard. He needs little time to snap off a torpedo from distance.

Tech's next game is against Northwestern State 7 p.m. (CT) Tuesday back at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock.

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