Ross scores 25, Smith 23 in Texas Tech's 83-79 win over TCU
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Texas Tech was looking to make history Tuesday night against TCU and did just that.
Thanks to career nights from Aaron Ross with 25 points and Zach Smith with 23, Texas Tech rallied for a 12-point halftime deficit and earned an 83-79 win over TCU on Tuesday night to notch its fifth straight Big 12 Conference victory for the first time in its 20-year stay in the league.
''I'm really proud of how our kids competed tonight,'' Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said. ''We didn't have our best game, but a lot of it had to with TCU coming in ready to play. . We regrouped. And, in this league, nothing's easy and you have to come ready to play every night.''
Texas Tech (18-9, 8-7), which has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 2007, last won five consecutive conference games during the 1995-96 season when it won the Southwest Conference title.
Chauncey Collins and Brandon Parrish netted 39 and 19 points, respectively, for the Horned Frogs (11-17, 2-13).
Despite trailing by 12 at halftime, the Red Raiders did not come out deflated, jumping out to a 14-2 game-changing run to knot things up at 49-49 with 14:38 to play in the second half.
''I just felt like I just needed to keep being aggressive,'' said Smith, who went 7 of 10 from the free-throw line. ''They put me on the line, and I was able to make some shots today.''
Texas Tech and TCU would trade the lead more than 10 times before the Red Raiders took control late.
Ross drained a pair of free throws and Justin Gray recorded a steal and converted 3-point play to give Texas Tech a 65-60 lead with less than nine minutes left in the second half.
''Halftime, Coach wanted to pound the ball inside,'' said Ross, who made all 12 of his free throws. ''So we started doing that and they got into foul trouble. So, we just continued with it.''
From that point on, the Red Raiders held on - though they watched their lead slip to 80-78 with less than a minute remaining before Smith had a basket then a free throw to ensure the win.
''Every time I go in at halftime, I say, `Fellas, the most insignificant score in basketball, or in sports, is a halftime score,''' Tubby Smith said. ''We came out in the second half and changed our defense and became a little more aggressive and played denial defense to guard the 3-point line.''
It didn't look like Texas Tech stood much of a chance at the end of the first half.
Following a 3-pointer by Ross, the Red Raiders clung to a 23-22 lead before TCU went on a mini-run in the first half.
TCU closed out strong by outscoring Texas Tech 14-6, including 10 free throws, in the final 4:30 to take a 47-35 advantage into halftime.
At the break, TCU shot 67 percent (7 of 11) from the 3-point line and enjoyed its best first-half shooting performance at 56 percent (15 of 27) from the perimeter.
''We played really, really well,'' TCU coach Trent Johnson said. ''Texas Tech is a very good basketball team. They have a lot of confidence in close games. We had a couple of bad possessions down the stretch, but I can't fault their effort, I can't fault their execution. That's just the way it goes sometimes, you don't get breaks.''
TCU: Freshman JD Miller, who earned his first start against No. 13 Iowa State on Saturday and turned in a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, had 10 points and six rebounds against Texas Tech.
Texas Tech: Norense Odiase, who broke his left foot in the first meeting against TCU on Jan. 18, did not wear his protective boot Tuesday night. He's not expected to rejoin the team until the end of the season, according to coach Tubby Smith.
HOW SWEEP IT IS
A year after the Horned Frogs swept the season series, the Red Raiders returned the favor Tuesday night. Texas Tech defeated TCU twice in Big 12 play to earn its first season sweep since turning back Oklahoma State earlier this season.
IT'S BEEN AWHILE
The last time Texas Tech won four straight conference games was under former Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight during the 2006-07 season.
TCU was without the services of forwards Karviar Shepherd (back) and Devonta Abram (thigh). Malique Trent, who did not play in the first contest, was also not in the starting lineup but was inserted at 16:01 of the first half. Trent finished with 15 points.
TCU hosts Baylor Saturday.
Texas Tech visits Kansas on Saturday.