NCAA Latest: Texas Tech Beats Purdue For Last Elite 8 Spot

Arnold Nichols
March 26, 2018

Keys to Texas Tech win? This is the first game on Sunday and will feature the 3rd seeded Red Raiders and top seeded Villanova Wildcats. Texas Tech played more aggressive and was even out-shooting Villanova in the second half, coming within five points of the Wildcats. After falling behind early, Nova took 15-13 lead on a DiVincenzo 3-pointer from the right wing. Vince Edwards added 12 for Purdue, but just 4 after halftime. The Wildcats made 23 of their 27 free throws (85.2 percent), while the Mountaineers were 17-23 (73.9 percent). After defeating Texas Tech 71-59, the Villanova Wildcats are on their way to the Final Four.

The two teams have never played before.

Texas Tech's Keenan Evans drives to the basket and shoots over Purdue's Jacquil Taylor during the second half Friday at TD Garden.

Tech finished 18-14 in Beard's first season.

The Red Raiders weren't in awe of their accomplishment - missing the tournament a year ago, which is the norm in Lubbock, and suddenly surging to the Elite Eight here in 2018. Texas Tech does have a slight advantage underneath on the boards and if they can defend the three-point shot and rebound they have a real shot to win this game. "We feel like we have more work to do and we're going to do that work". So I certainly would agree with that. "It's special for a lot of reasons", he said.

"We play for the guy next to us", Evans told TBS after the game. This year it's nice to get over the hump in a lot of ways. It's one of the most unselfish teams that I've ever coached. There have been great one-and-done teams in the NCAA Tournament, most recently and notably he 2015 Duke Blue Devils, led by Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow and others. "A lot of things we do defensively, we've taken from Villanova, in terms of switching and playing versatile players". So Benson soaked in history from the fourth row of the Tech fan section, sitting next to Texas Tech coaching legend Gerald Myers. VMI hit 442 3-pointers in 2006-07. Zach Smith then swished a jumper while Zhaire Smith came back with a tip-jam and Purdue was cooked.

"It's our identity", Beard said. "Some miscues and not really connected as a team".

"We just made the - what's it called? They're going to be able to wear -try to wear us down, much like West Virginia did". "I think that's a really valuable game for us, really valuable". Matt Painter would tell you that's not winning basketball. Texas Tech does not have the offensive capability that Villanova has so limiting the number of possession the Cats have should be huge. They rammed home six dunks against Purdue on Friday and have a 12-2 edge in dunks against opponents during the tournament. Another big factor was Villanova figured out how to stop Texas Tech's senior guard Kennan Evans, who averages 17.7 points, with a strong defense of its own. "It shows the highs and lows of college basketball". The sophomore guard scored 25 in the second half and went 11 for 20 in the game, posting his second 30-point effort of the season. Vince Edwards collected 13 rebounds himself. The Red Raiders' pressure seemed to bother the 7-foot-3 Haarms and he turned the ball over three times, while scoring just four points.

Finally, the depth and athleticism prevailed. "We're trying to stay as fresh as possible and try to learn as much about Texas Tech as we can through film and team meetings and walk-through type settings just to be fresh, because they're just as physical".

"Yeah, I think we have the best bench in the entire country", Gray said.

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