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No. 6 Texas can’t pull off comeback against Texas Tech in 74-67 loss

The Red Raiders led by as many as 13 points in the second half and the Longhorns came back to tie it, but couldn’t finish down the stretch.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech Red Raiders guard De’Vion Harmon scored a career-high 25 points, including 21 in the first half, as the No. 6 Texas Longhorns fell behind late in the first half and couldn’t pull off the comeback from down 13 points early in the second half in a 74-67 loss on Monday in Lubbock.

Texas only made one of its final nine shots down the stretch in addition to several key free throws as guard Marcus Carr scored 23 points, but didn’t receive much assistance as forward Timmy Allen scored only two points and missed all four of his field-goal attempts. Carr also went 4-of-9 shooting from the free-throw line. Guard Brock Cunningham missed a late layup and was 1-of-5 shooting from three, while fellow bench standout Sir’Jabari Rice was limited to 24 minutes because of persistent foul trouble.

Texas Tech secured a third straight home win over a top-25 opponent thanks to a handful of lucky shots, but was also simply more physical in the paint, earning a 41-29 advantage on the glass, a 36-18 advantage in points in the paint, and a 7-2 advantage in blocked shots.

With the Horns already favored entering the game, the Red Raiders were missing guard Pop Isaacs, the team’s third-leading scorer, and forward Daniel Batcho, it just didn’t factor into the outcome thanks to the heroics from Harmon and some key plays down the stretch from forward Fardaws Aimaq, who had 12 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.

In another slow start for Texas, Texas Tech jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks to five points from leading scorer Kevin Obanor before the Longhorns responded with six straight points heading into the under-16 timeout as forward Dylan Disu hit a three and Carr scored three points.

Two layups after the media break gave Texas its first lead as Texas Tech missed five straight shots and turned the ball over four times during a scoreless stretch of four and a half minutes. Two threes by Harmon, including one banked in, put Texas Tech back in the lead as Harmon scored 10 straight points, although three combined threes from Cunningham and Rice helped the Horns keep pace and head into a long-delayed media timeout leading 21-19 as Texas Tech tried to deny the ball to Carr and Texas trapped Aimaq.

Aimaq’s second foul, called while trying to close out Carr on a three-point attempt, sent the game into the under-eight timeout. Carr hit two of three from the line, the only scoring by the Longhorns in a stretch of over four minutes that included five missed shots, a streak finally broken by forward Dillon Mitchell’s dunk after two quick passes in the paint following a ball reversal.

Six straight made field goals by Texas Tech, including four threes — another one banked — helped the Red Raiders surge during the final stretch of the first half that saw Tech take a nine-point lead into halftime when Harmon hit a three at the buzzer.

A three-point play and a jumper by former Texas forward Jaylon Tyson opened the scoring in the second half for Texas Tech and extended the lead to 13 points. Five straight made field goals by the Horns cut the lead to five, forcing a timeout by Texas Tech in the midst of the 12-4 run by Texas.

The Longhorns were able to keep Harmon from being a factor by trapping ball screens until he made a layup with 10:25 remaining to match his career high of 23 points as Texas missed some key shots — a short jumper in the lane by forward Timmy Allen and a three in the corner from Rice that rimmed out, part of a four-minute scoring drought heading into the under-eight timeout.

But the Longhorns surged out of the media break as Carr and Hunter both hit threes to get within three points sandwiched around another unintended bank shot by the Red Raiders. Then Disu tied it with a three following several strong defensive sequences before allowing a dunk by Obanor when Tech finally made Texas pay for their double teams, a tip in by Aimaq, and an assist for the big man on an alley oop that forced a timeout by Rodney Terry with the lead back up to six points.

Carr got two points back with a driving shot off the backboard, but wasn’t able to finish the three-point play, then Disu split his trip to the line. Unable to take advantage offensively, Texas paid defensively when Harmon hit a driving layup with 34 seconds remaining. Trying to pull off the difficult comeback, an out-of-bounds play produced a layup for Cunningham at the rim, but he missed it and the Red Raiders closed the game out at the free-throw line.

Texas returns to the Moody Center on Saturday for a rivalry game against Oklahoma, now the last-place team in the conference.