No. 22 Texas Tech routs No. 18 Baylor in Big 12 opener
LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech showed no mercy against a hobbled Baylor team as the Red Raiders raced to a 77-53 victory on Friday night at the United Supermarkets Arena.
The No. 22 Red Raiders jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first half and stiff-armed No. 18 Baylor the rest of the way in both teams’ Big 12 opener.
Guard Niem Stevenson got into the lane for a layup to boost the Red Raiders’ lead to 29 points with 10:53 left and they cruised from there.
Guard Keenan Evans scored 18 points to lead four players in double figures for the Red Raiders (12-1, 1-0 Big 12). Forward Zhaire Smith added 15, guard Jarrett Culver scored 13 and Stevenson finished with 11.
Forward Mark Vital scored 12 points to lead Baylor (10-3, 0-1), and forward Tristan Clark and guard King McClure finished with 10 apiece.
Texas Tech held Baylor leading scorer guard Manu Lecomte to eight points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field.
“(Lecomte is) a good player,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “He’s one of the best of the best players in the Big 12. You can’t stop guys in this league, but try to slow down, try to alter, try to frustrate the other team’s best players. I thought from where I was sitting tonight, we were locked in.”
The Bears shot 37 percent as a team and had just one assist with 14 turnovers.
“It was a kind of freaky stat when they only had one assist in the game,” Beard said. “So they missed a lot of open shots. I do think you’ve got to give our team and our players some credit for making it a low assist game for Baylor by pressuring passes. We executed the game plan really well tonight for most of the game.”
Baylor was playing without 7-foot forward Jo Lual-Acuil, who was listed as day to day with a sprained left foot.
The Bears got forward Terry Maston back from a broken right hand that he suffered on Nov. 28 at Xavier. However, Maston looked uncomfortable with his right hand wrapped as he went 0 of 4 from the field.
Baylor coach Scott Drew said he and his coaching staff had to adjust their game plan to fit their healthy personnel without being able to practice the changes.
“Not having time to practice makes it tough,” Drew said. “Again, I think you can be one (player down). It’s hard when you’re two down. Hopefully, we can get both (Lual-Acuil and Maston) back returning to their old selves again, because youve got to have that in the Big 12.”
Red Raiders forward Zach Smith suffered an apparent left foot injury early in the first half and didn’t return. Beard said Smith’s injury will be re-evaluated leading up to Texas Tech’s game at Kansas on Tuesday.
Texas Tech held Baylor scoreless for more than six minutes of the first half, helping the Red Raiders build a 14-0 run. Guard Brandone Francis got into the lane for a layup to cap the spurt and put Texas Tech ahead 29-9 with 4:42 to go until the break.
“I thought first half, we were all embarrassed by how we played,” Drew said. “I thought Texas Tech really played well and I thought for the first 10 minutes, 12 minutes, besides not being able to do much, at least we kept it close.
“And then the last eight minutes, we let things get away from us trying to speed up and trying to catch up.”
Stevenson hit a 3-pointer from the right corner with five seconds left to give the Red Raiders their largest lead of the first half at 21 points.
Texas Tech outrebounded Baylor 22-8 and held the Bears to 30 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
“That was the key to the game,” Beard said. “Baylor’s identity is rebounding. They’re really good at it, they recruit to it, they coach it, they emphasize it. If you don’t rebound with Baylor, you have no chance to win the game. We talked all week in preparation that we were going to have to rebound the ball.”
NOTES: This was the first matchup between Texas Tech and Baylor when both teams were ranked in the Top 25. ... Texas Tech owns a 79-56 lead in the all-time series with Baylor, including a 47-18 edge in Lubbock. ... Baylor began Big 12 play on the road for the fifth straight season, a streak that includes four games against ranked opponents. The Bears are 1-4 in those games.