LUBBOCK (AP) — Jaye Crockett scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Texas Tech to an 80-71 win over Texas Southern on Monday night in the opening round of the Progressive Legends Classic.
“We needed all 33 of his minutes,” Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said. “He’s a clutch player, what I like is his calm demeanor. He’s a veteran senior player and that’s what we expect of him. I can count on Jaye doing the right thing, that’s what I appreciate about him.”
Dusty Hannahs was the itch that wouldn’t go away for the Tigers, coming off the bench and scoring 17 of his 19 points for the Red Raiders in the second half — all at crucial moments.
“That was big,” Texas Tech point guard Robert Turner said. “He’s coming back into his own, hitting shots left and right now, that’s real big for us.”
Turner added 15 points, and Jordan Tolbert scored 11 points and grabbed five boards for Texas Tech.
Jose Rodriguez led Texas Southern with 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Ray Penn added 15 points — 13 in the second half — before fouling out late.
“He knew how to get you on his shoulder, get you on his hip and attack his basket,” Smith said. “We’ve got to find someone that wants to be the stopper, wants to be the challenger. We tried a lot of people on Jose Rodriguez, and it didn’t work.”
Texas Tech (3-1) kept a narrow lead for most of the game, but allowed TSU (2-3) to regain a pair of one-point leads early in the second half before pulling away in the final minutes.
Texas Southern hit its first two 3-point attempts early in the game to get out to a quick 10-6 lead with 15:41 left in the first half, but the Red Raiders responded with a 12-0 run that spanned six minutes to capture their largest lead until the final minute of the game.
Rodriguez connected on a 3-pointer with 9:33 left in the half to snap the Red Raiders run and help the Tigers rally back. The Red Raiders held a 31-26 at the half, but the Tigers clawed their way back and closed in.
After the break, Rodriguez would pick up where he left off, and Aaric Murray aided him in tying the game 39-39. Then a Murray field goal would give the Tigers their first lead in more than 20 minutes, 41-40 with 13:37 left in the game.
The game got intense when Kader Tapsoba stuffed a Jose Rodriguez field goal attempt into the Texas Southern bench with 13:11 left in the game, igniting the crowd at the United Spirit Arena and riling up the Tigers bench.
“It got them a little riled up, and we were down there talking,” Crockett said. “It gave us energy, we were motivated to play defense harder.”
A D’Angelo Scott field goal on the next possession gave the Tigers another one-point lead with 12:59 to go, but Hannahs quickly changed that, hitting a 3-pointer for the Red Raiders then landing a bank-shot floater to regain the lead and extend it to four, 47-43, with 12:15 left in the game.
When the Tigers would close the gap, it seemed Hannahs always had an answer. Hannahs was 6 of 6 from the free throw line on the night and hit two to make it 54-47 with 9:10 left, but the Tigers would respond with a 6-0 run and get right back in it.
The Red Raiders dominated in the paint, scoring 42 points while limiting TSU to only 24. That was due in large to Tech’s big men registering 12 blocks on the night.
“Imagine if we hadn’t blocked them,” Smith said. “We would have lost the game because they were getting by us and getting inside. That puts a lot of pressure on our front court people.”
Texas Southern outrebounded Texas Tech 37-34, but the Red Raiders ability to contest shots and eventually limit the Tigers’ lanes helped Tech outshoot TSU 54 percent to 38 percent.
Another Scott free throw with 7:24 left would tie the game 54-54, but the Tigers couldn’t find the breakthrough they needed and never led again.
“I’m so pleased with how hard they’ve been working, and it’s showed on the basketball court,” Smith said. “There’s a few things we need to iron out, but it’s fixable.”
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