Senior guard Keenan Evans scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half Saturday as No. 7 Texas Tech grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big 12 by smothering Kansas State 66-47 at Manhattan, Kansas.
The Red Raiders, who carry their highest national ranking ever, were most effective defensively. They came in ranked seventh nationally in average points allowed and held the Wildcats to just 29 percent shooting.
Upsets Saturday throughout the Big 12 enabled Texas Tech (21-4) to take the lead outright with a 9-3 conference mark after winning its sixth game in a row.
The Red Raiders began the season with a .336 percentage all-time in Big 12 play. Their top Big 12 finishes came in 1997 (the first year of the league) and 2002 when Texas Tech placed third. Over each of the past 10 seasons, the Red Raiders have finished seventh or worse.
Senior forward Tommy Hamilton IV added 14 points on 4-for-4 shooting from 3-point range, while freshman guard Zhaire Smith chipped in 11.
The Red Raiders scored seven straight points to snap a halftime tie and did not allow a second-half field goal until the 14:30 mark. Senior guard Barry Brown ended a string of 11 straight misses at that point for Kansas State (17-8, 6-6), which missed its first nine second-half attempts.
Evans, who has failed to score in double figures just twice this season, netted 11 of Texas Tech’s first 16 second-half points.
Junior forward Dean Wade was the only Wildcat to score in double figures with 13 points. The Wildcats have been swept in Big 12 play by Texas Tech, Kansas and West Virginia but stand 6-0 against the six teams remaining on their conference schedule.
Kansas State missed nine straight shots during a stretch of eight-plus minutes without a field goal in the first half, but used nine points from Wade to forge a 27-27 halftime tie.
The Wildcats shot just 28.6 percent for the half and eventually surrendered the command they built with a 7-0 start as Hamilton, a DePaul transfer, scored eight first-half points to lead the Red Raiders.
A 3-pointer by freshman guard Jarrett Culver, who scored 10 points, with 36 seconds left gave Texas Tech the halftime tie in spite of a 22-16 rebounding advantage for Kansas State.
--Field Level Media