Red Raiders Grind Past Mean Green

Texas Tech defeated North Texas 60-45 Monday at United Spirit Arena.

In typical Texas Tech fashion, the Red Raiders struggled to put distance between themselves and an opponent in the first half, but inexorably pulled away in the second to garner a solid if unspectacular victory. Tech (10-3), led by Devaugntah Williams’ 14 points, steadily widened a four-point halftime lead over North Texas (6-6) to claim a 60-45 decision.

The Red Raiders got off to another slow start offensively, not reaching double digits until a Randy Onwuasor steal and dunk made the score 10-6 Tech with 11:59 to play in the first half. That miniscule four-point margin would equal Tech’s largest of the half as neither club could even remotely break away from the other. Indeed, as late as the 6:33 mark, when North Texas’ T.J. Taylor hit a layup, the teams were tied. An Onwuasor jumper on Tech’s next possession put the Red Raiders ahead 18-16 and Tech would hold the lead for the remainder of the contest.

The Red Raiders hit a decent 46 percent of their attempts from the floor in the opening stanza, but went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, shot only four free throws, and committed eight turnovers. Tech was also even-Steven on the glass with the Mean Green, with slender point guard Keenen Evans’ five boards leading the team.

Tech’s offense to start the second half was nothing to write home about, but was still better than the visitors could manage. In a span of roughly two minutes, the Red Raiders got two Robert Turner layups, a Williams trifecta, and a pair of Zach Smith free throws to open up a 35-25 advantage with 16:34 remaining. A game that had been extremely tight throughout, had suddenly opened up for Tech.

The closest North Texas would get the remainder of the game was within seven on a Jeremy Combs free throw with 13:36 to play. The 15-point bulge at the buzzer was Tech’s largest.

The biggest difference between the two halves was free throw attempts. Tech shot only four in the first half but went to the line 21 times in the second. And officiating played a role as the stripes allowed the teams to grapple with abandon in the first half, while calling a tight game in the second. The Red Raiders, for the record, connected on 80 percent of their charity efforts while the Mean Green hit only 44 percent.

Tech was also better on the glass in the second half, snaring six more boards than NTSU.

Jordan Williams led North Texas with 20 points, but no other NTSU player scored more than five. Along with Devaugntah Williams, Isaiah Manderson got into double digits for Tech with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

The Red Raiders are next in action against the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 opener for both teams. The game takes place at 1:00 p.m. Central time on Saturday in Lubbock.

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