Red Raiders Fall Short against Horns

Texas defeated Texas Tech 70-61 Saturday at United Supermarkets Arena. The contest was the Big 12 opener for both schools.

Just when it appeared as though Texas Tech was about to be run out of the gym by the towering Texas Longhorns, the Red Raiders fashioned one of their patented rallies. But this one came up short as Tech (10-4) lost to Texas (12-2) 70-61 before a crowd of 9,936 in Lubbock.

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A Cameron Ridley free throw at the 5:39 mark of the second half made the score 60-40 Texas, and it looked like Tech’s goose was thoroughly cooked. The Red Raiders, however, apparently oblivious to the monumental task confronting them, battled back behind a fired up Isaiah Manderson, and an intense full-court press, to get to within seven points on a Manderson layup with 1:24 to play, before ultimately losing by nine.

During those frenzied four minutes and 15 seconds, Manderson dished out an assist and collected 10 points, all on layups. Prior to that, he had played only seven minutes and scored only two points. Manderson excelled after the Red Raiders went to the trapping press and got the transition game going. He caught passes in motion and finished effectively. It was his type of game and it showed.

For most of the first half, this conference-opener for both teams was a tight affair. Tech attained its largest lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Toddrick Gotcher with 16:18 showing on the clock to stake the Red Raiders to a 5-2 advantage. Over the next six minutes neither team was able to make any real headway, and when Keenan Evans knocked down a 3-ball with 10:09 to play in the opening stanza, Tech led 13-11.

A Jevan Felix trifecta with 5:39 to play, however, gave Texas a 20-16 advantage and signaled the ultimately decisive run that was to come.

With Norense Odiase on the bench carrying two fouls, and a lineup on the court that had all the offensive firepower of a battalion of oysters, the Red Raiders inexorably fell behind for the remainder of the half.

Over the final 2:24, Tech scored a mere two points on a pair of Evans free throws, while the Longhorns got a Felix 3-pointer, an Isaiah Taylor dunk, and two free throws by Myles Turner to make it 31-22 Texas at the intermission.

Turnovers, several of which led directly to Texas points, were a huge problem for Tech late in the half. The Red Raiders turned it over six times in the final 7:20, and at the break, Texas led Tech in points off of turnovers 20-3. That statistic, combined with Texas’ 41-29 advantage on the glass and Tech’s 13-of-26 free throw shooting were the difference in the game.

But there were bright spots for Tech, too. Aside from Manderson’s late-game heroics, Keenan Evans hit half of his shots, scored nine points, pulled down three boards, dished out four assists, kicked in a block and a steal, and committed only one turnover. Randy Onwuasor had three steals and three assists with only one turnover. And most important, the Red Raiders proved they belonged on the court with the Longhorns who just might be the best team in the Big 12 right now.

Tech returns to action against West Virginia (13-1) 7:00 p.m. (CT) Monday at United Supermarkets Arena.

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