By Steve Habel, Senior Contributing Writer
AUSTIN, Texas – The loud whooping and hollering coming from the visitors’ locker room that could be heard Saturday through the walls in the bowels of the Frank Erwin Center was a true indication of how big Texas Tech’s 68-62 win over Texas was to the No. 8 Red Raiders.
Here’s hoping the long faces and solemn attitude shown by the Longhorns (10-6, 2-2 in Big 12 games) after the game can provide Texas the fuel it needs to improve after another tough loss.
Texas Tech's Matt Mooney scored 22 points, including eight in a key early-second half run, as the Red Raiders outlasted Texas in another crucial Big 12 dustup, sending the Longhorns to their second straight conference loss.
The victory snapped Texas Tech’s 22-game losing streak to the Longhorns in Austin, dating back to Feb. 24, 1996.
“Tech made some great plays at the end, hit their shots, and on our offensive end we didn’t make good decisions,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “Our fight level was good, but in the second half, we didn’t have enough of a collective response as a team. The biggest thing for us is we didn’t make the right decisions when we had to.”
Texas Tech (15-1, 4-0 in Big 12 play) led just 61-57 after the Longhorns’ Matt Coleman III hit a jumper to cap a 6-0 Texas run with 1:45 to play.
After a turnover by each team, a missed shot by Tech's Brandone Francis and a key offensive rebound by Tariq Owens, Francis hit both ends of a 1-and-1 opportunity at the free throw line with 46.7 seconds remaining to expand the Tech advantage to six points.
Mooney added a pair of free throws with 28 seconds left, and, after a Jaxson Hayes layup and free throw for Texas, Owens cemented the win with a two more from the charity stripe.
“It’s tough, because this is a game that our guys wanted and were in the right mind at the half to go get,” Smart said “We just weren’t sound enough to make the plays we needed at the end.”
Kerwin Roach II led Texas with 17 points, 13 in the first half, with Hayes tallying 15 and Jase Febres recording 13 for the Longhorns.
“We just didn’t respond to their run,” Roach said. “Collectively as a team, Tech did its job and we didn’t. We didn’t hit the shots when we had some good looks.”
Jarrett Culver added 14 points for the Red Raiders, while Davide Moretti scored 13 and Owens hit for 12 for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders still have not allowed any of its opponents to score over 70 this season.
“I give our guys a lot of credit for playing with a lot of poise today,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “We played better offensively in the second half, trading some offense for defense at times, and we were more aggressive."
Basketball is a game of making shots and Tech was fortunate that Texas didn’t make them when it had clean looks in the end game.
“It’s hard to play here, and it always has been,” Beard said. “It’s too early in the season to say we are a great team, but we are building something special in Lubbock and we make no apologies for that. This was a big win for us, but then every win is in this conference.”
After a dreadful first 10 minutes from both teams, Texas put together a 5-0 run capped by a three-pointer by Roach that gave the Longhorns their first lead, at 12-11. At the under-eight-minute timeout, the two teams had combined to make just 10 field goals, as both the Red Raiders and Longhorns struggled to find any offensive continuity.
The Red Raiders charged back to take a 23-21 lead on Mooney’s three-pointer at the 3:23 mark before Texas finished off the half with a 9-3 run to garner a 30-26 advantage at halftime.
Roach led all scorers with 13 points over the first 20 minutes while Mooney paced Texas Tech with 8 points. The Longhorns outshot Tech 40 percent to 35.7 percent in the half and owned a 21-17 edge on the boards.
Mooney scored eight of the Red Raiders’ first 10 points and added a steal as Tech swooped to a 36-35 lead four minutes into the second half. The two teams traded baskets and the lead until Hayes tied the game at 48 on an alley-oop pass from Roach for a dunk with 8:09 to play.
The Red Raiders asserted themselves with a 7-0 run, scoring on a Culver jumper, a Moretti three-pointer off a feed from Mooney and a dunk by Norense Odiase and led 55-48 with 6:29 remaining.
“Those late runs changed the momentum, and we just never responded,” Coleman said. “Texas Tech is solid and doesn’t mess up often, but we had our chances today. We needed to make some stops at the end of the game, and we did, but we didn’t make the plays we had to have.
Texas jumps from the frying pan into the fire for its next game, on the road Monday against No. 7 Kansas.
“We will turn the page quickly, because we have to heading into Kansas,” Smart said. “This will be one of those games where our guys are going to have to step forward and say ‘this is who we are’ and ‘this is how it’s going to be.’”
The Longhorns’ next three games, and five of the next six, are against teams ranked in the top 25.