LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech withstood the pressure defense and the barrage of 3-point shots to stay undefeated while the freshmen keep producing for the Red Raiders.
Hometown freshman guard Jarrett Culver had 18 points and Zhaire Smith, another of Tech’s seven freshmen, had 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting with a handful of dunks in a 103-69 win over Savannah State on Saturday.
“I feel real comfortable. Coaches believe in me and the players believe in me. I give them all the credit,” said Culver, who was coming off a 21-point game three days earlier. “They give me the ball … I just try my best to make a play, practice a lot and everything ties in together. Just playing aggressive and stay focused.”
Niem Stevenson also had 18 points for the Red Raiders (6-0), who led throughout after scoring the game’s first eight points and have won all of their games by double-figure margins. Justin Gray capped that opening spurt with a dunk after he had already made two free throws and had a tip-in basket.
“I knew it was going to be a challenging game because of their style of play,” second-year Tech coach Chris Beard said. “A non-traditional game for us, but I think it’s a game that can pay dividends down the line.”
John Grant Jr. had 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with four made 3-pointers for Savannah State (2-5). The Tigers were 10 of 41 on 3-pointers.
When Tigers coach Horace Broadnax was asked if they planned to shoot that many from long range, he sounded surprised they didn’t have more. He said his team has taken nearly 60 3-pointers in a game.
“We want good looks. The thing about it, it looks ugly and playing against quality opponents, it’s going to look ugly,” Broadnax said.
Along with his dunks and points, Smith had five assists and four rebounds while playing 19 minutes. Brandone Francis added 10 points.
“Playing aggressive and me running the floor,” Smith said. “When some of my teammates get the ball, just run. That’s we practice on, just run and get easy buckets.”
Savannah State: The Tigers allowed more than 100 for the third time this season. They’ve scored that many twice.
Texas Tech: With a mix of five seniors and seven freshmen, the Red Raiders have found a nice mix early on. They could be in line to break into the AP Top 25 poll on Monday. Texas Tech was the second team in others receiving votes in the latest poll, and did what it was supposed to do this week with a pair of lopsided victories against overmatched opponents.
Texas Tech had 30 assists on his 39 made field goals. “It’s real fun doing that sharing the ball,” Smith said. “That motivates us and that brings energy.”… The Red Raiders had 18 offensive rebounds, matching the number of defensive rebounds by Savannah State.
TAKING IN A GAME
Just a day after the Red Raiders football team won at Texas for its sixth win to get bowl eligible, coach Kliff Kingsbury was in the stands watching Beard’s team. Before that win over Texas, there had been questions about Kingsbury’s future, but school officials said afterward said Kingsbury would be back next season.
“Are y’all going to give the football coach a raise,” Broadnax said as he wrapped up his postgame comments. “Hey man, he beat Texas.”
Savannah State has another difficult game, going to No. 6 Wichita State on Tuesday night.
Texas Tech will be heading to New York City to play Seton Hall on Thursday.