LUBBOCK (AP) — Texas Tech took advantage of another chance to get the school’s first win as a ranked team in almost eight years.
Coach Chris Beard is looking for more after Keenan Evans scored 16 points in an 82-53 victory over Kennesaw State on Wednesday night.
“I respect the question, but rankings didn’t really play into this,” Beard said. “We’ve got to get the program to the point we’re not talking about being ranked. We’re talking about, ‘What are we ranked?’
“We’ve got to get the program to the point we’re not making the tournament but winning the tournament.”
The Red Raiders were ranked 22nd two weeks ago when they lost to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden and fell out of the Top 25. They returned after handing then-No. 22 Nevada its first loss last week.
Texas Tech (8-1) rolled to a 42-19 halftime lead, holding the Owls to 4-of-19 shooting and outrebounding them 26-10. Kennesaw State (1-8) shot 33 percent for the game.
Tommy Hamilton IV and Zach Smith scored 11 points each and Justin Gray added 10 for the Red Raiders, whose previous win as a ranked team was against UTEP on Jan. 3, 2010.
James Scott scored 19 points for the Owls and Tyler Hooker had 14, going 9 of 11 on free throws. Kennesaw State made more free throws (20) than field goals (14).
“It was everything I expected,” Kennesaw State coach Al Skinner said. “They defend well. They’ve got depth. They’re physical at every position. Because of that, it’s going to allow them to be in a lot of basketball games.”
Texas Tech entered the rankings last month for the first time since the 2009-10 season, when the Red Raiders started 9-0, were ranked as high as 16th and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Kennesaw State went almost 10 minutes without a field goal in the first half and trailed 34-9 when that drought ended on a jumper by Scott with 4:26 left before halftime.
“I feel like this game was a validation game,” Gray said. “Every time you get ranked, you have to validate it. I think we did that, and everyone had fun.”
Kennesaw State: Texas Tech was the latest opponent in a tough nonconference schedule that included Butler, Florida State and Washington. The Owls hope it will prepare them to be competitive in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders knew the game against Nevada was a chance to redeem themselves for the loss to Seton Hall and have a chance to return to the rankings. Now that they’ve done it, they have got a good shot at being in the poll when Big 12 play starts.
Beard was looking forward to his matchup with Skinner, who was coach at Boston College when he beat Bob Knight-led Texas Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2007. Beard was an assistant to Knight that season.
Kennesaw State: Bethune-Cookman at home Saturday.
Texas Tech: Rice on Saturday at Lubbock Municipal Coliseum, the first game on its old home court since 1999 as what’s being called “Throwback Night.”
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