No. 13 Texas Tech can always depend on its defense.
Jarrett Culver had a team-high 13 points for the Red Raiders, and they had another stifling defensive performance to remain undefeated with a 65-47 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Wednesday night.
“I thought Pine Bluff came in here with a nice game plan,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “They zoned us for 40 minutes and slowed us down. We didn’t think we played our best.”
Maybe not on the offensive end of the floor.
The Red Raiders (8-0) entered as the nation’s top team in field goal defense, and that trend continued in their first home game this season as a ranked team. They held Pine Bluff to 32.6 percent shooting (14 of 43) and forced 20 turnovers.
Martaveous McKnight scored 27 points and was the only player with more than four points for the Lions (2-6), whose only lead came when Cameron Posey’s 3-pointer made it 3-2 less than two minutes into the game.
“We knew they were a great basketball team,” Pine Bluff coach George Ivory said. “I wanted to put my guys to a challenge to come in and play against a really good defensive team and we definitely got that. We missed some shots, but a lot of that had to do with their defense.”
Davide Moretti then hit a 3-pointer and had a fast-break layup within a span of 15 second to put the Red Raiders ahead to stay.
Matt Mooney had 11 points and Kyler Edwards 10 for Tech, which shot only 20 percent on its 3-pointers (3 of 15) — though was 23 of 47 from inside the 3-point range. The Red Raiders made only 10 of 20 free throws.
“They slowed the game down with their zone and we weren’t hitting shots,” Beard said. “We have to do a better job of taking what the game gives to us.”
The Red Raiders pieced together their biggest run early in the second half to finally shake free of Pine Bluff. Chris Smith’s two free throws with just under 15 minutes left had Pine Bluff within 43-31.
Tech then scored the next 13 points, buoyed by back-to-back thunderous slam dunks by Tariq Owens slam dunks and a slick three-point play by Culver when he drove the baseline for an up-and-under finger roll off a pass from Mooney.
The Red Raiders had a 12-0 run in a span of less than five minutes in the first half. They led only 13-12 before the spurt that ended when Norense Odiase spun away from a defender and hammered home a slam dunk with 7:44 left in the half for a 25-12 lead.
Pine Bluff: After a 56-point shellacking at Cincinnati eight days earlier, the well-traveled Lions showed some fight as they work toward the more manageable SWAC season.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders, off to their best start since going 9-0 in 2009-10, keep chugging along on the strength of tough-to-crack defense and offensive balance. They have won all eight games by double digits, six by 18 points or more. … Texas Tech has won 43 consecutive non-conference home games, including five this season.
TIP-INS: The Raiders produced 27 points off of UAPB’s 20 turnovers. . McKnight launched 18 of the Lions’ 43 field-goal attempts and registered nine of their 14 makes. . Only eight of UAPB’s 20 turnovers were steals. Three of the Lions’ starters had four turnovers. . Tech got 18 points off the bench on a tough shooting night for the reserves. Brandone Francis was 0-for-6, which typified the bench’s struggles — the bench was 6-for-27 from the floor.
UAPB heads to the West Coast to take on UC-Santa Barbara on Saturday night.
Texas Tech has a break for final exams before returning to action Dec. 12 at home against Northwestern State from Louisiana.
Source: The Associated Press