Host Texas Tech began the new season by celebrating a memorable run last March and ended it by rolling past the University of Incarnate Word, 87-37, in Lubbock, Texas, on Tuesday in the season opener for each team.
Sophomore Jarrett Culver, one of the ringleaders from an Elite Eight team in 2018, led the Red Raiders with 16 points as they blew open a reasonably close game.
Culver helped key a 17-2 surge to begin the second half after Texas Tech led 39-30 at halftime.
A combination of the Red Raiders’ defense, Incarnate Word’s shooting woes and Texas Tech’s better 3-point shooting fueled the decisive burst.
After hitting only 3-of-9 from outside the arc on the first half, the Raiders nailed three in its first six tries in the initial five minutes after halftime and wound up 9-for-22 from deep.
Meanwhile, Incarnate Word couldn’t get many shots to fall from anywhere.
The Cardinals began 2-for-25 after halftime until Antoine Smith buried a jumper with 4:51 left in the game. Those were Smith’s first two points of the second half after he pestered the Red Raiders for 14 in the opening frame.
Even after Smith’s make, Incarnate Word never found a rhythm and shot a miserable 10 percent (3-for-30) from the floor in the second half on the way to scoring only seven points after the break.
The Cardinals shot 13-for-49 overall and turned the ball over 27 times, which Tech converted into 36 points.
By contrast, the Red Raiders were efficient on offense in their second-half onslaught, connecting on 19-of-30 field goals.
Texas Tech built its halftime lead after stemming a Cardinals’ comeback in the last four minutes of the first half.
Incarnate Word clawed within 28-24 on Charles Brown’s jumper with 4:06 left. But the Red Raiders answered with an 8-0 burst, started by a pair of Culver free throws and ending with four points in a row from Kyler Edwards.
The Cardinals stuck close for 20 minutes by shooting 52.6 percent (10-for-19) from the floor.
Brandone Francis came off the Texas Tech bench to add 13 points. Graduate transfer Matt Mooney notched 12 points and six assists for the Raiders, who are back in action Friday when they host Mississippi Valley at 8 p.m.
Another transfer, Tariq Owens, registered six of Texas Tech’s 11 blocked shots.
The Cardinals also return to action Friday at 7 p.m. when they entertain St. Francis-Illinois.
—Field Level Media