EditorsNote: 2nd graf, change Coprew to Corprew, add ‘host’ before Texas Tech; 8th graf, change Coprew to Corprew; other changes
Some holiday rust was inevitable, but once 11th-ranked Texas Tech knocked that loose and found its defensive rhythm Friday night, the Red Raiders showed why they should be a contender in the Big 12.
Jarrett Culver scored 19 points, first-time starter Deshawn Corprew added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and host Texas Tech pulled away from Texas-Rio Grande Valley for a 71-46 nonconference victory at Lubbock, Texas.
Terry Winn led the Vaqueros with 17 points.
Culver and the Red Raiders cranked up their signature defense in the second half to turn a close game into a rout with 12 minutes to go. Texas Tech (11-1) bounced back from its first loss of the season, 69-58 to Duke in New York on Dec. 20.
The Red Raiders open the Big 12 season Wednesday at West Virginia.
Texas Tech led 38-31 at halftime but didn’t play the same level of defense that has been a staple this season. UT-Rio Grande Valley (8-7) shot 42.6 percent from the floor (14 of 26) before the break against a Red Raiders team that came in leading the country in field-goal defense at 33 percent.
Things changed early in the second half. The Vaqueros missed 11 of their first 12 field goals in the period, which allowed Texas Tech to extend the lead.
Brandone Francis scored two baskets, Culver knocked down a face-up long-range jumper and on the next possession grabbed a rebound of his own missed 3-pointer and zipped a pass to Corprew for a backdoor layup.
That series of events pushed the Raiders’ lead to 52-35 and prompted a UT-Rio Grande Valley timeout. The Vaqueros finished the night shooting 32.7 percent, 17.4 percent (4 of 23) in the second half.
Texas Tech had threatened to blow the game open late in the first half, stretching the lead to double digits on the strength of a 13-4 run. However, the Vaqueros didn’t flinch and drew within seven points at intermission.
UT-Rio Grande Valley plays at UC Irvine on Thursday.
—Field Level Media