Red Raiders score first 11 points, cruise to 83-44 win over Maine

The Texas Tech basketball team finally got the fast start it was lacking in its regular season opener.

 

Thanks to a few screens and good ball movement, Niem Stevenson and Keenan Evans drained a pair of 3-point shots which became the catalyst to an 11-0 Texas Tech run in the first four minutes of a non-conference home game Tuesday against Maine.

All the while, the Red Raiders’ defense turned in one of its finest moments — limiting the Black Bears to 15 percent (4 of 26) from the field and allowing only four made shots through the first 20 minutes at United Supermarkets Arena.

Add it all together and Texas Tech dominated Maine from start to finish of a 83-44 victory as part of the regional round of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament.

“It helps when you hit shots,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said of the fast start. “But I thought we did a good job on the defensive end. Maine is a very good three-point shooting team. And to hold them to three makes, I think you’ve got to give our guys credit defensively. … I thought, for the most part, especially in the first half where we played well. We were dialed in defensively.”

The Red Raiders (2-0) will continue their run of play in the tournament with an 11 a.m. Saturday contest against Boston College at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

But before that, Texas Tech will have plenty of positives to take away from its most complete game to date.

It all started with Stevenson, who drained a left-corner 3 at the 19:34 mark of the first half. Stevenson took the shot after the Red Raiders were unable to find any driving lanes earlier in the possession.

Evans found his shooting stroke early, knocking down a 3-pointer from the right wing to stretch out the Black Bears on defense which allowed for Tommy Hamilton IV to set up on the right block and score a turnaround jumper that made it 8-0 with 18:11 left in the first half.

It was all Texas Tech from there — despite the Black Bears mustering a minuscule 5-0 run to cut their deficit to 24-8 under the 10-minute mark of the first half. Brandone Francis drained one of his two 3-point shots to give the Red Raiders a 34-8 advantage with about 6 1/2 minutes before the break.

The junior was happy to see his extra work in the gym pay off in game situations.

“I’m just pretty confident right now,” said Francis, who was 2 for 2 from beyond the 3-point line and finished with eight points. “I mean, I put the work in in the summer. … Credit to all of the student managers who’s always there to rebound for us and make us better.”

Following a pair of free throws by Josh Webster, the Red Raiders headed into the locker room with a 49-13 lead.

Texas Tech, which had four players finish in double digits, was never challenged the rest of the way.

Norense Odiase, who is gaining more playing time after coming back from a pair of foot injuries that required him to take a medical redshirt last season, felt comfortable after scoring eight points — all in the second half — and nabbing two rebounds.

“It’s a confidence thing with me. Once I keep playing, I gain confidence every day,” Odiase said about making his way back into the lineup. “Coach Beard and the staff does a great job of instilling confidence in me. And just keep encouraging me, letting me get back to my game.”

Evans (12 points), Zhaire Smith (11), Jarrett Culver (11) and Stevenson (10) were the four players who ended with double-digit point totals. Culver and Smith are true freshmen.

Maine ended the night shooting 25 percent from the floor. The Black Bears were led by Andrew Fleming and Ilija Stojiljkovic who each tallied eight points.

“Just a relentless attack from Texas Tech,” Maine coach Bob Walsh said. “I love the way they play. It’s a credit to Chris and his kids. They come at you in waves. It was everything I was worried about coming into the game. Their intensity, their pressure, their athleticism, their size was just going to take us out of who we are. And that’s exactly what they did.

“They got us on our heels. There was a little sense of blood in the water and it just continued to roll from that point. Give them a ton of credit.”

Player of the game

Keenan Evans has been imploring his teammates to execute better and get off to a fast start.

The senior guard practiced what he preached early on, draining a right-wing 3-pointer en route to eight first-half points. Evans finished the game with a game-high 12 points, four assists and only one turnover.

Notable

Jarrett Culver wasn’t the only player on the Texas Tech or Maine squads to hail from Lubbock.

The Black Bears’ Duncan Douglas was also a former standout for Coronado. The 6-6 forward played with Western Texas College before heading to Santa Monica College and landing at Maine.

As a senior with the Mustangs, the team captain averaged 18.3 points and eight rebounds on the way to second team all-state, first team all-district, first team all-region and first team All-South Plains.

Culver, a freshmen with the Red Raiders, and Duncan were both coached by longtime Coronado coach Randy Dean, who retired last season.

What’s next

Texas Tech is scheduled to face off at 11 a.m. Saturday against Boston College in the Naismith Bracket held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The game will be broadcast on Watch ESPN.

If they defeat the Golden Eagles, the Red Raiders would advance to the championship game set for 5:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2. The consolation game is slated for 3 p.m. Sunday and will also be shown on ESPN2.

 

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