tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Sunday, Sep 23, 2018
  • Home
Florida Gators

Florida knocked out of NCAA Tournament by Texas Tech in thriller

DALLAS — Keenan Evans keeps making big plays, extending Texas Tech's season — and his time with second-year head coach Chris Beard.

They have another game with the Red Raiders headed to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.

Evans, who treats every game like senior night and doesn't want to be done, scored 22 and hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2 ½ minutes left as third-seeded Texas Tech beat Florida 69-66 on Saturday night.

"As clock runs down, you look at it like, 'I don't want my season to be over.' These guys are the same way," Evans said about the other Tech seniors.

While the next loss will end All-Big 12 guard Evans' career, high-flying freshman Zhaire Smith is just getting started.

Smith had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and was on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass from Evans with 29 seconds left for a punctuating dunk to send the Red Raiders to Boston for a matchup against Purdue or Butler on Friday night.

"He has no ceiling," Evans said of Smith.

Chris Chiozza did go the length of the court for a Florida layup with 25 seconds left before Evans lost the ball when trying to fight through a double team after the inbounds pass.

The Gators gathered the ball after a wild scramble. Egor Koulechov and KeVaughn Allen both had 3-point attempts in the final 10 seconds that came up short.

Florida fell short of the Sweet 16 — and the Elite Eight — for the first time in its past six NCAA Tournament appearances. The last time it didn't even make it to the Sweet 16 was in 2010, when the SEC team lost a first-round game to BYU.

Jalen Hudson led third-year coach Mike White's Gators with 23 points. Koulechov had 12 and Chiozza, their All-SEC point guard, had 11.

Texas Tech quickly erased a five-point deficit midway through the second half with nine straight points. Evans scored seven of those, and Smith — who had a 360-spin alley-oop dunk from Evans in the tourney opener Thursday — delivered a follow-up slam.

Evans drove the baseline for a reverse layup put the Red Raiders up 51-50. After Smith's slam, Evans had a nifty spin move for a jumper then added a three-point play.

Jarrett Culver, the hometown freshman for Texas Tech, had 11 points and nine rebounds.

Texas Tech hasn't been to the Sweet 16 since Beard was an assistant coach for Bobby Knight. This is only the third NCAA appearance since then for the Red Raiders.

After his time coaching on Knight's staff, then for Pat Knight, Beard left Tech for more than a decade before coming back two years ago when Tubby Smith left for Memphis.

Weather Center