UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — A veteran Texas Tech squad didn’t want to wait until the Big 12 season to try and earn respect.
The Red Raiders started that campaign Sunday with Keenan Evans scoring 25 points to lead his team over No. 20 Northwestern 85-49 in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.
“When you are a team like us that really hasn’t done much in recent history, we are trying to get our respect,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “We’re trying to earn our respect. We have five seniors, and this is their last go-round.
“We don’t have time to wait until tomorrow. Every day is the biggest game of our careers.”
Evans scored 54 points in the two wins for the Red Raiders (4-0), who were picked seventh in the preseason Big 12 poll. Zach Smith added 11 points, while Tommy Hamilton IV and Niem Stevenson each had 10.
“We want to be that team that comes out and throws that first punch every game,” Evans said. “Knowing they are a ranked team, we want to be ranked, too.”
The Red Raiders never let up, shooting 60.4 percent and handing coach Chris Collins his worst loss in five years at Northwestern, surpassing an 89-57 road defeat to then-No. 25 Indiana on Jan. 23, 2016.
“We came out with low energy, low talk and quite frankly played terrible defense,” said guard Scottie Lindsay, who led the Wildcats (3-2) with 20 points.
Evans scored 17 points in the first half and the Red Raiders led 41-25 at the break. Texas Tech raced out to a 9-0 lead, with two 3-pointers from Evans.
For much of the half, Northwestern had more turnovers (15) than points. Lindsey was the lone threat on offense with 17 points, but the rest of the team was 2-for-12 from the field. The Wildcats tied for their season-high with 17 turnovers for the game.
“I thought their pressure affected us. They had us on our heels,” Collins said. “Their defense really set the tone for the game.”
Texas Tech scored 26 points off the Wildcats’ mistakes in the first half.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders’ victory over a ranked opponent should earn them votes in the Top 25 poll this week and might even be enough to get them in.
Northwestern: The Wildcats, who played five games in 10 days, will almost certainly fall out of the Top 25 with this loss and the one to Creighton earlier in the week.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Red Raiders’ defense held Northwestern to season-lows in points and shooting (26.7 percent). Through four games, Texas Tech has allowed only one team — Boston College — to score more than 50 points over shoot better than 30 percent from the field.
HE SAID IT
Collins on Texas Tech: “They have great point, they are very well coached and they are a terrific defensive team. They have depth, so they can keep coming in with athletes in waves and have fresh bodies out there. I think they have the makings of having a great year.”
The Wildcats put themselves in a 1-0 hole before the game even started. Northwestern was assessed a technical foul for turning in a late starting lineup card, so Evans went to the line and made one free throw.
Texas Tech heads home to host Wofford and Savannah State, but will be back East to play Seton Hall on Nov. 30 at Madison Square Garden.
Northwestern will host Sacred Heart on Friday and head to Georgia Tech on Nov. 28 to finish the month.
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