DALLAS (AP) — Keenan Evans scored 19 of his 23 points after halftime and third-seeded Texas Tech surged late to top Stephen F. Austin 70-60 Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Big 12 runner-up Red Raiders (25-9) closed the game on a 13-2 run. Evans drove for a layup with 3:58 left, putting Texas Tech ahead to stay.
When Evans split through defenders with just over a minute left, he paused briefly to give a quick pose to the camera under the basket.
Evans had only four points in the first half, all on free throws while going 0 for 4 from the field. But he also ignited the highlight play of the night, chasing down an offensive rebound past midcourt and then throwing an alley-oop pass to 6-foot-5 freshman Zhaire Smith, who made a 360-degree spin in the air while completing the dunk.
Texas Tech will next play the winner of the Florida-St. Bonaventure game.
SFA (28-7), the Southland Conference tournament champion, led by eight points early in the second half was trying to take down a Big 12 opponent in an NCAA opener for the second time in three seasons. The Lumberjacks beat West Virginia in their last tournament appearance two years ago before losing to Notre Dame.
Ivan Canete had 17 points to lead SFA, while Shannon Bougues had 14, Kevon Harris 12 and TJ Hoyfield 10.
Evan’s go-ahead basket began a run that included another dunk by Smith on a pass from Justin Gray, and a 3-pointer from the right corner in front of the Tech bench by Florida transfer Brandone Francis.
Smith was the only other Tech player in double figures with 10 points.
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks made three 3-pointers in the first 2 1/2 minutes after halftime to take a 39-31 lead — their largest. Canete, Hoyfield and Ty Charles made those 3. They had only two 3s before halftime, including Harris’ buzzer-beater for a 30-27 lead. That gave them the lead back after they had led for 15 minutes.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders got their first NCAA Tournament win since 2005, when advancing to the Sweet 16 with coach Bob Knight. But this is only their third appearance since, having lost first-round games in 2007 and 2016.
Texas Tech advances to play Florida or St. Bonventure on Saturday.
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