No. 21 Texas Tech pulls away from Florida Atlantic
Texas Tech’s defense wore down Florida Atlantic in the second half, and then the Red Raiders finished off the Owls from 3-point range in a 90-54 victory on Tuesday night at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas.
The No. 21 Red Raiders forced Florida Atlantic into 19 turnovers, which Texas Tech converted into 22 points on the other end.
Forwards Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith each had steals that led to transition points as Texas Tech opened the second half with a 20-7 run. The Red Raiders built a 20-point lead with 13:11 left and never allowed the Owls to climb back in the game.
“They get after you defensively,” Florida Atlantic coach Michael Curry said. “They try to turn you over, they crash the boards. It’s just a great lesson for our guys to play a team that’s going to continue to come at you that way.”
Texas Tech buried Florida Atlantic from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes. Culver and forward Tommy Hamilton hit treys on back-to-back trips down the floor to stretch a 12-point lead to 18.
The Red Raiders sank 11 of 16 shots from beyond the arc in the second half.
Keenan Evans made 3 of 6 from long range and finished with 15 points to lead six players in double figures for Texas Tech (10-1). Davide Moretti finished with 14 points, Hamilton pitched in 13, Niem Stevenson added 12, Culver had 11 and Smith scored 10.
The Red Raiders had 20 assists, shot 49.2 percent from the field and committed just eight turnovers.
“Low turnover game — check. Balanced scoring, five or six guys in double figures — check,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I thought we were dialed in mentally as well.”
Justin Massey scored 17 points to lead Florida Atlantic (6-5), and Ronald Delph added 16.
Culver, a freshman from Lubbock, made his first start, and along with his scoring output, posted four steals, two blocks, two assists and three rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
“(Culver is) one of our best defensive players, and you saw it last game against Rice, the second half he stepped up and got us going,” Evans said. “This game as well. He’s one of those guys that always kind of leads us in deflections and brings the most energy on defense.”
Texas Tech finished the first half on a 12-5 run ignited by Smith’s fastbreak dunk and 3-pointer by Evans. Smith then capped the spurt when he got into the lane for a basket that gave the Red Raiders a 40-33 edge at halftime.
Florida Atlantic trailed 13-4 early but clawed back into the game by keeping Texas Tech from making a field goal for five minutes. That helped the Owls tie the score at 17 on Amir Smith’s layup with 10:56 remaining in the first half.
The Owls were playing without Jailyn Ingram and Payton Hulsey, both of whom were injured in the last week. Ingram sustained a broken nose in practice.
The Red Raiders pressed their depth advantage by rotating 10 players in the first half. Texas Tech had nine different scorers in the first 20 minutes, led by Evans with 10.
However, the Owls produced more bench points than the Red Raiders in the first half as Massey came off the bench to lead Florida Atlantic with 14.
NOTES: Texas Tech and Florida Atlantic were facing each other for the first time. Texas Tech was playing its second straight Conference USA opponent after defeating Rice on Saturday. Florida Atlantic took on its first Big 12 opponent since losing 77-54 at Kansas on Nov. 30, 2011. ... Florida Atlantic was playing its first game of the season outside the state of Florida. ... Texas Tech finished a three-game run against opponents with Owl mascots. The Red Raiders defeated Kennesaw State 82-53 on Wednesday and Rice 73-53 on Saturday.