A big-time second-half performance by Matt Mooney overall and assorted teammates from from beyond the arc helped the No. 8 Texas Tech Red Raiders surge past a feisty Texas Longhorns team for a 68-62 victory on Saturday at the Erwin Center.
Bolstered by a large and loud contingent of scarlet and black, Mooney scored 14 points and didn’t miss from the field or free-throw line in the second half as the Red Raiders overcame a four-point halftime deficit. Mooney led all scorers with 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting, as his deliberate, crafty game was too much for the Texas defenders. Fellow guards Davide Moretti and Brandone Francis also contributed big three-pointers in the second half as Texas Tech hit five of seven makes from distance in the second half.
The game got off to a slow start as neither team was particularly efficient from the floor, but Texas did manage to finish the first half with a 30-26 lead thanks to smart offense and strong defense. Against a Red Raiders defense that loads to limit middle dribble penetration, Texas looked to make crosscourt passes and then use pump fakes when necessary to get into the lane. At times, the Horns were able to convert straight-line drives or find freshman forward Jaxson Hayes on the block and rolling to the basket.
Senior guard Keriwin Roach II was particularly effective, scoring 13 points on nine shots while sophomore guard Matt Coleman added three assists.
In the second half, Mooney got off to a hot start, scoring eight of the first 10 points for the Red Raiders and then sandwiching two more baskets around a three-pointer by Longhorns sophomore guard Jase Febres as Texas Tech created some separation midway through the second half.
Texas closed the gap, however, tying the game at 48 with 8:07 remaining when Roach found Hayes for a resounding alley-oop dunk that brought the home crowd to life.
Star Red Raiders forward Jarrett Culver quickly responded, however, hitting a pull-up jumper only 12 seconds later to cut the Texas momentum short. Then Coleman missed a good look from three, Moretti hit from beyond the arc, Hayes turned the ball over, and the Texas defense broke down, allowing a Norense Odiase dunk that opened up a seven-point lead for the road team and prompted a timeout from Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart.
Febres hit from distance out of the break, but freshman guard Courtney Ramey and junior guard Eli Mitrou-Long both missed good looks from three, so when Francis hit his lone three of the game, it stretched the Texas Tech lead to 10 and seemed to put the game out of reach with 3:38 remaining.
The Longhorns didn’t give up, though, cutting the lead to four on a jumper from Coleman, who then stole the ball from Culver. Febres came away with the basketball and appeared ready to set up the offense after Texas Tech got numbers back in transition, then forced a drive and turned the ball over in traffic with 1:13 remaining.
An offensive rebound by Tariq Owens off a Francis miss forced Texas to start fouling and Texas Tech sealed by game by hitting 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch.
Against a Red Raiders team that currently ranks as the top defense ever ranked by Ken Pomeroy, the Longhorns were able to create enough good shots to win. In a familiar storyline, not enough of them went in, allowing Texas Tech to notch its first win in Austin since 1996.
Faced with a two-game conference losing streak, Texas will now travel to Lawrence for a Big Monday matchup against No. 7 Kansas.