March 18, 2018 / 3:37 AM / 6 months ago

Evans lifts third-seed Texas Tech past Florida in thriller

Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer and set up the game-clinching bucket Saturday night as the third-seeded Red Raiders advanced to the East Region semifinals with a 69-66 decision over sixth-seeded Florida at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Evans, who finished with a team-high 22 points, scored the last of them on a jumper from the right wing with 2:34 left for a 67-64 lead. After the teams exchanged stops, Evans destroyed his defender with a crossover that gained him access to the lane, where he lobbed to freshman center Zhaire Smith for a dunk with 29.2 seconds remaining.

The Gators drew within three on Chris Chiozza’s driving layup with 26.1 seconds left and then forced a turnover. With one timeout left, they decided against using it. They got open 3-point looks in the final five seconds from Egor Koulechov and KeVaughn Allen, but both came up short and the horn sounded.

Smith enjoyed a great all-around game for Texas Tech (26-9), contributing 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Jarrett Culver added 11 points.

Jalen Hudson tallied a game-high 23 points for Florida (21-13), while Koulechov scored 12 and Chiozza netted 11 points.

The Red Raiders will play Friday night in Boston against the winner of Sunday’s game between Butler and Purdue.

Florida threw the first punch, opening up a 20-14 lead at the 12:32 mark when Mike Okauru drove for a layup. The margin reached seven points twice, the last time with 9:48 left in the first when Koulechov canned a 3-pointer off a Chiozza assist to make it 26-19.

Texas Tech applied the clamps at that point, holding the Gators scoreless for more than five minutes while it scored 10 straight points. Culver capped the burst with a 3-pointer with 5:01 left to give the Red Raiders a 29-26 edge.

Texas Tech went dry after that, managing only four points for the half’s remainder. Florida took advantage, lugging a 33-32 lead into the locker room when Koulechov tipped home Chiozza’s miss with a second remaining.

—Field Level Media

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