LUBBOCK, Texas — The story heading into Tuesday’s sport between No. 23 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas Tech was all Trae Young. His return to Lubbock, town the place he was born; his return to Texas Tech, the place his father put up huge numbers within the late 1990s.
And then Keenan Evans stole the present.
Evans led Texas Tech to an 88-78 win, ending with 26 factors — and primarily outdueling Young, who missed all 9 of his three-pointers en path to scoring 19 factors on 16 photographs.
Evans matched Young shot for shot through the opening minutes of the second half, then stored going whereas Young cooled off. Evans had 17 second-half factors.
“He did what best players, seniors, all-conference players are supposed to do,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard mentioned. “Don’t ever take Keenan Evans for granted.”
Evans had loads of assist. Center Norense Odiase had a number of huge performs within the second half, ending with 14 factors and 5 rebounds. Senior Niem Stevenson buried a nook three-pointer as the shot clock expired within the last minutes to push Texas Tech’s result in eight. Stevenson completed with 12 factors, whereas freshman Zhaire Smith had one other strong sport, going for 13 factors, 4 rebounds and three assists.
But it was Evans who hit the daggers all through the second half. Texas Tech was in a position to get him remoted towards Young a few instances early within the second half, and Evans instantly had the sting. He had one step-again three-pointer off a crossover dribble that set the tone for the ultimate 10 minutes.
“He did it several times tonight,” Beard mentioned of Evans hitting huge photographs.
Evans has cemented himself as top-of-the-line gamers within the Big 12 this season, making a robust case for All-America consideration. Going toe-to-toe towards Young and popping out on prime, each individually and as a workforce, will solely additional his file.
Young had some flashes all through the sport, however he had solely the one sizzling streak initially of the second half. There had been no backbreaking 30-foot three-pointers, and Texas Tech was in a position to restrict his angles when he drove the lane off penetration. The Red Raiders alternated defenders on Young, however principally face-guarded him with greater gamers, beginning with 6-foot-6 freshman Jarrett Culver. Young was in a position to get his factors within the first half from free throws, however as soon as Texas Tech stopped fouling him on drives, he could not get something going.
“With a guy like Trae, it’s so many things that could help,” Beard mentioned of Texas Tech’s defensive technique to decelerate Young. “We just tried to give our guys quality over quantity. We were fortunate. He doesn’t have many shooting nights like that.”
Oklahoma has now misplaced seven highway video games in a row, and Young’s latest struggles correlate pretty nicely to Sooners’ highway journeys. He’s had 5 video games of 22 factors or fewer because the begin of 2018, with all 5 approaching the highway.
“It was tough,” Young mentioned. “I haven’t been able to find a rhythm from anywhere on the court on the road, recently.”
Oklahoma was one of many greater surprises of the top-16 seed reveal on Sunday, incomes a four-seed regardless of shedding three in a row and 7 of 11 on the time. So clearly, the Sooners will not be prone to lacking the NCAA match, however their seed is plummeting. It’s now 4 straight losses and four-eight prior to now 12 for Oklahoma, with the Sooners falling beneath .500 in convention play for the primary time this season. Moreover, Oklahoma nonetheless has to play highway video games at Kansas and a all of a sudden sizzling Baylor workforce.
During the latest 4-sport shedding streak, Young’s exterior taking pictures has dropped off dramatically. Including Tuesday’s loss, Young is now 7-for-41 from three-level vary in his previous 4 video games. The supporting forged really stepped up towards Texas Tech, with Christian James (23 factors) carrying Oklahoma’s offense within the first half and Kameron McGusty (13 factors) and Jamuni McNeace (11 factors) having robust stretches within the second.
But with out Young discovering his taking pictures stroke, Oklahoma will discover it troublesome to win towards good groups down the stretch.
“I’ve gotta improve, and I will,” Young mentioned.
Tuesday’s win was extra about Texas Tech, although, and the Red Raiders nonetheless having sole possession of first place within the Big 12.
A offered-out crowd, two offered-out residence video games remaining, and two and a half weeks from making history by claiming the varsity’s first Big 12 title.
“These are the kinds of things we envisioned [when we got here],” Beard mentioned.