LUBBOCK, Texas — Zach Smith returned to Texas Tech’s starting lineup after coming off the bench for a game for an unspecified violation of team rules.
The senior forward looked ready for the start of the rugged Big 12.
Smith scored a season-high 16 points, freshman Zhaire Smith added 14 and the 21st-ranked Red Raiders beat Abilene Christian 74-47 on Friday in their final tuneup for conference play.
After scoring just four points while not starting for the first time this season in a win over Florida Atlantic, Zach Smith made his first seven shots before his only miss to go with six rebounds, his second-best total of the season.
“There’s some things we believe in. Discipline’s at the top of that list,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “Guys just got to continue to grow as men. Great people. Just a simple mistake. They pay the consequence. We move on.”
Texas Tech (11-1) won its fifth straight game and extended its nonconference home winning streak to 38 games, holding the Wildcats to 17 percent shooting (5 of 31) in the first half and 30 percent overall.
Keenan Evans and Justin Gray had 11 points apiece in the first meeting between the West Texas schools since Dec. 2, 1957, also in Lubbock. The Red Raiders have won 11 straight in the series, a streak that dates to 1938.
Tevin Foster and Hayden Howell scored nine points each for the Wildcats (8-5), who played their first ranked opponent in 33 years. They lost 84-72 at No. 19 Kansas on Dec. 8, 1984.
“There’s no question that’s the best team we’ve played in nonconference,” ACU coach Joe Golding said. “I think our nonconference schedule’s been pretty good, but that was a whole different level.”
The Red Raiders opened the game with a 9-0 run and finished the first half with three straight Smith dunks — two by Zhaire, one by Zach — as part of an 8-0 spurt and 30-15 lead.
ACU: The toughest game on ACU’s schedule went about as expected, although the Wildcats surely didn’t anticipate the kind of poor shooting game they had. With Southland Conference play next, they lost the momentum of a 62-58 win at Air Force by getting beat at Lipscomb and never really giving themselves a chance against the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech: Beard has to be pleased with how the nonconference schedule prepared his team for the Big 12. The Red Raiders lost to Seton Hall immediately after getting ranked for the first time since January 2010. They knew their last chance to get back in the Top 25 was the next game against then-No. 22 Nevada, and they rallied to win in overtime.
TIES THAT BIND
Beard’s first full-time job as an assistant was at ACU for the 1996-97 season, when Golding was the team’s point guard. Two of Golding’s assistants — Brette Tanner and Ted Crass — have served under Beard elsewhere. “It wasn’t a game that I enjoyed coaching in because that bench has three guys that I love dearly,” said Beard, whose three daughters live in Abilene.
While going 7 of 8 from the field, Zach Smith was just 2 of 7 on free throws. Texas Tech was 17 of 34 from the line two games after going 7 of 21 in a 73-53 win over Rice. The Red Raiders are 36 of 73 (49 percent) over the past three games.
“I’ll meet with you in the hallway afterward if you have any suggestions,” Beard joked. “I believe in the process. Nobody shoots more free throws than we do. These percentages will turn. We’ll win some games on free throw shooting as well.”
ACU: Southland opener at New Orleans on Dec. 28.
Texas Tech: Big 12 opener at home against No. 18 Baylor on Dec. 29.
Corrects previous version with Rice game being two games ago, not the previous game.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org