Texas Tech coasts past South Carolina State 101-39
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said he joked with the Red Raiders before Wednesday's game against South Carolina State, telling them he didn't want his blood pressure to rise.
It's hard to find anything troubling with their 101-39 home win against South Carolina State in the first round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. The Red Raiders led by at least 40 points for the final 13:32 and by at least 50 points for the final 7:45.
The 62-point margin of victory was the fourth-largest in program history. The Red Raiders (8-1) hadn't scored 100 points since Dec. 30, 2013, in a 100-69 win against Mount St. Mary's.
''By far the best overall game as a team we've had,'' Red Raiders forward Justin Gray said. ''Everybody played well and did what they needed to do on the court. Coach Smith didn't really say too much at halftime because he was very well pleased with our performance.''
Gray scored a game-high and career-high 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting.
''Justin just found a sweet spot,'' Smith said. ''He must've made four or five jumpers off the baseline. He's a kid that understands what he needs to work on and where his shots are going to come from. That's a sign of an intelligent basketball player.''
The Red Raiders shot 22 of 36 (61.1 percent) in the first half en route to building a 53-23 halftime lead. The 53 points were the most first-half points they've scored this season, and the 23 points were the fewest first-half points they've allowed this season. The previous marks were 42 and 24, respectively.
''We got started right,'' Smith said. ''We finally got off to a good start. It seemed to be contagious.''
Tashombe Riley scored a team-high eight points for the Bulldogs (3-8).
Robert Turner (14 points), Devaugntah Williams (13) and Isaiah Manderson (11) all reached double-digits in scoring. The Red Raiders also produced 28 assists, the most since 2008.
''That's what coach Smith wants, us to share the ball and find the open man,'' Gray said. ''We were sharing the ball very well tonight. People were making shots. That's all you can ask for.''
South Carolina State: Including Wednesday, the Bulldogs have played seven of their 11 games on the road. While they're 3-1 at home, including a 2-0 record in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play, they're 0-7 on the road. The Bulldogs don't have another home game until Jan. 24.
Texas Tech: Williams made his fourth consecutive start Wednesday and produced a wide range of stats: 13 points, seven assists and three rebounds. But Red Raiders coach Tubby Smith pointed to Williams' five steals as the biggest sign of improvement. ''I think the area he needs to keep improving is his defense,'' Smith said. ''The five steals, it tells me he's retaining what he's learning in practice.''
Texas Tech improved to 8-1 for the sixth time in program history and to 8-0 at home for the 18th time.
South Carolina State travels to play Houston in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic on Saturday.
Texas Tech plays host to Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic on Friday.