Texas Tech turns back Northwestern State 75-64
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith has seen teams wilt due to a lack of focus during the days before Thanksgiving throughout his 24-year head coaching career. His Red Raiders appeared to be doing the same in the waning moments of the first half Tuesday night.
They held an 18-point lead against Northwestern State with 6:28 left before halftime. Three Red Raiders turnovers over the final 4:34 of the first half, however, allowed the Demons to trim the deficit to nine points at halftime. The Red Raiders lead soon dipped to just four points.
''Whenever you're playing a game at this stage, right before you break for Thanksgiving, it's always been tough to keep guys focused,'' Smith said. ''I just told them you must've been thinking about the Butterball turkeys. You certainly weren't concentrating on the game.''
The Red Raiders, though, bounced back for a 75-64 home win against Northwestern State.
After the Demons trimmed Texas Tech's lead to 37-33 with 18:40 left in the game, the Red Raiders responded with a 7-0 run. Their strong second-half offense secured the game.
The Red Raiders shot 13 of 21 (61.9 percent) from the field and were 9 of 18 from the free-throw line in the second half. They shot 14 of 35 (40 percent) from the field and attempted just six free throws in the first half.
''We just attacked more,'' Red Raiders guard Randy Onwuasor said. ''We got easy buckets, dunks. You're going to shoot 100 percent if you dunk. We just got the ball inside to Norense (Odiase). He was able to make plays and finish around the rim.''
The Red Raiders extended their lead to 17 points, 63-46, with 9:29 remaining. The Demons (2-3) could only trim the deficit to 11 points four times in the second half.
Zeek Woodley scored a game-high 27 points for the Demons. The figure ties his season high, which came against Louisiana State-Alexandria.
Red Raiders guard Robert Turner scored a team-high 13 points. Devaugntah Williams added 11 points, and Onwuasor and Justin Gray added 10 points apiece.
The Red Raiders received a season-high 17 assists - Onwuasor and Williams had four apiece - against 15 turnovers, three of which helped spark Northwestern State.
''We can do better taking care of the ball,'' Turner said. ''It was a little mental lapse the last three minutes of the first half. We're still a young team, and it's still early.''
Northwestern State: The Demons haven't righted their struggles from beyond the 3-point arc. After making 33 percent of their 3-pointers last season, they entered Tuesday night's game shooting 22 percent from there and made 4 of 15 (26.7 percent) against the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech: Red Raiders junior Justin Jamison made his career debut when he entered with 6:18 remaining in the first half. He had been suspended for Texas Tech's first two games and dressed but didn't enter last Saturday's home game against Missouri State. He finished with no points and two rebounds in six minutes. ''He made a number of mistakes on the offensive end,'' Smith said. ''He had a tough time.''
The Red Raiders earned 17 assists against 15 turnovers. Smith wasn't happy with either of those marks. ''We should've had 25 assists,'' he said. ''We missed layups and easy baskets. But I'm happy with the 17 assists. When you see the other column, with 15 turnovers, it's a little disappointing.''
Northwestern State heads home to face Missouri Valley on Saturday.
Texas Tech is home against the Air Force Academy on Sunday afternoon.