Player of the Game: I’m not picking between the three seniors. Nope, you can’t make me do it. Keenan Evans: 16 points on 3 of 8 from the floor, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 3 turnovers. Zach Smith: 14 points on 7 of 10 from the floor, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 1 block and 1 steal. Justin Gray: 12 points on 6 of 8 from the floor, 7 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 block and 1 steal.
High Flyer of the Game: Zach.
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) March 24, 2018
Defender of the Game: I’m going to go with Zhaire. His second half defense on Haarms was phenomenal. You’ll tell this to your kids. Beard intentionally guarded a 7’3″ center with 6’5″ Zhaire Smith and Haarms finished with 4 points for he day.
Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: I don’t know how you choose between Justin and Zach, but they both filled up the bucket today.
- The first half was a really tough one to watch because the teams play such tough defense. And you would be correct in thinking that Texas Tech plays as tough as defense as you’ll find in the country. That’ is Texas Tech’s calling card and if you ever wanted to complain about refs not calling, just remember how rough and tumble Texas Tech likes to play. They’re Kansas State under Frank Martin sort of tough and we should embrace that because it’s pretty awesome.
- I loved seeing Justin Gray step up and accept some of that offensive responsibility n the first half, took it upon himself to get the ofense going.
- It was strange seeing this team shoot so many three-point shots in the first half and I thought the offense was stagnant and the players were settling for those three-point shots because that’s not what’s been typical.
- Things that saved this team in the first half: offensive rebounds; Davide Moretti (shooting and in the pick-and-roll); and Justin Gray.
- Zhaire Smith guarded Haarms for a good part of the second half and that’s just not normal.
- The Zach Smith dunk with about 8:15 remaining off of the Jarrett Culver pick-and-roll was pretty amazing. And then, with 3:32 left, with the shot-clock winding down, Evans to Zach on the slip to the bucket and a tough shot by Zach put Texas Tech up by 10.
- I mentioned after the game that Texas Tech’s offense really turned things on in the second half and the Red Raiders shot 52%, 38% from the three-point line and 93% from the free throw line. Yeah, the offense was great, but that means that Purdue’s defense simply could not maintain putting a cap on the offense.
Texas Tech never trailed.This is an incorrect statement, Texas Tech did trail early, but I felt very comfortable the entire game.
- The Red Raiders absolutely dominated the bench, 33 points to just 6 for Purdue and that’s probably the difference in the game. Purdue had two scorers and then there was just a bunch of guys after that. That won’t be the case against Villanova because they are deep and they can play.
- Head coach Chris Beard said after the game that the credit goes to the players, and rightfully so:
It’s special for a lot of reasons, and that’s certainly one of them. We all have a lot of pride from where we’re from and where we go to school, and we respect everybody that came before us. So I certainly would agree with that.
But the main reason it’s special by far, not even close, the number one reason is these players. These guys have come together, and we started our first year and were close. This year it’s nice to get over the hump in a lot of ways. These guys have worked extremely hard. It’s one of the most unselfish teams that I’ve ever coached. It’s one of the best practicing teams I’ve ever coached. We have great senior leadership. And we have great young guys that come in and have allowed themselves to be led.
So it’s a great thing for a lot of reasons, but to me the story is the players. It’s these guys to my left and the other guys in the locker room, they’re the story of this successful run.
- Trying to go back through the play-by-play and I think the moment that Texas Tech brok Purdue’s back was the lay-in by Zach with 3:32 remaining to put Texas Tech up by 10. Zach would score on the very next bucket, Keenan would score a couple of free throws, but then Zach would dunk and that was church. Purdue was overwhelmed.
- I’d be lying to you if I told you that I’m still in this weird state of disbelief. You are watching history and you’re watching something that’s NEVER happened with Texas Tech in it’s program history. I’m almost never at a loss for words, but I’m at a loss for words at this point because I’m not really eloquent enough to convey those emotions from my brain to the keyboard. All I know is that I’m trying to remember each and every moment and take in each and every experience. Writing them down like this will certainly help when we get old and gray and can’t remember exactly what happened, take the time to remember and write down who you were with when last night happened. The buddies you were with and the room you were sitting in and what you wore and the moment when you knew the game was over.
- Keenan Evans and Beard:
KEENAN EVANS: Winning never gets old. So it’s just amazing. It feels, like I said, amazing to share this moment with these guys and this coaching staff. We don’t want it to end. We feel like we have more work to do, and we’re going to do that work.
CHRIS BEARD: Yeah, I respect the question. We’ve got great basketball tradition at Texas Tech, starting kind of in my lifetime with Coach Myers, but I knew Coach Robinson’s history before and Coach Bass. I grew up going to Gerald Myers’ basketball camp. He was a championship coach in the Southwest Conference days. Then Coach Dickey had a great team that made the Sweet 16. And certainly Coach Knight, and I’m really proud of my association there. With Pat and Tubby getting the team.
So I respect the tradition, but when questions are asked like that, I’ve only coached these guys for two years. To me, we just made the — what’s it called? The Great Eight?
KEENAN EVANS: Elite.
CHRIS BEARD: The Elite Eight our second year together, and it’s just Culver’s first year. So why shouldn’t we? We’ve got a great university. We play in the best league in college basketball. We’ve got really great players. We’re blessed to be here, but I think we’ve earned the right to be here.
Why the hell not.
Texas Tech’s Zach Smith discussed the Red Raiders second gear in beating Purdue for a berth in the Elite Eight. pic.twitter.com/5iemriaqeL
— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) March 24, 2018
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) March 24, 2018