Texas Tech closes regular season with win over No. 11 Baylor

LUBBOCK, Texas – Pop Isaacs went for 20 points and Darrion Williams recorded his ninth double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds to help lead Texas Tech to a 78-68 win over No. 11 Baylor in the regular-season finale on Saturday at United Supermarkets Arena.

The Red Raiders (22-9, 11-7 Big 12) finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak and with a 15-2 home record after a game where they led 40-27 at halftime but trailed 54-53 before a 14-2 run that saw a barrage of 3-pointers from Isaacs, Williams, two from Kerwin Walton and a dunk by Robert Jennings to regain a double-digit lead.  Tech, which is now 17-0 when holding opponents under 70 points, owned a 40-29 rebounding advantage to help snap a three-game losing streak to the Bears (22-9, 11-7 Big 12) and even the season series.

“I loved our defense, especially early in the first half how we stretched out the lead,” Texas Tech coach Grant McCasland said. “Give Baylor credit. Coach Drew knows what he’s doing. They put pressure on us and were getting to the foul line. Finally, we were able to punch back and hit a couple of big shots. We broke the game open by getting stops and getting out in transition. That’s been the mark of our team. When we make 3s in transition, we are tough to defend. I’m thrilled with how the game finished and thankful to be part of this team. It was an awesome atmosphere and home season. Great way to finish the regular season.”

Isaacs recorded his eighth 20-plus point scoring performance of the season and led Tech for the 14th time after hitting three 3-pointers and going 5-for-6 at the free-throw line. Chance McMillian added 11 points and three assists to lead the reserves and is now only 13 points from 1,000 in his career, while Joe Toussaint led Tech with four assists and eight points on his senior night. Fellow senior Warren Washington remained out due to a foot injury. Williams had his 10th double-double of his career after surviving foul trouble and going 6-for-7 from the field. Jennings had eight points and seven rebounds in his seventh start of the season and Walton finished with eight points after making those two big 3s to fight off the Bears attempt at a comeback.

“I’ll tell you what I love about our team right now,” McCasland said. “They want to win. No one is playing the game to see how they can benefit from it individually. They are playing with a collective joy and are taking accountability for the mistakes that are made. Everyone is trying to do their role the best they can to help each other win. That’s postseason basketball. That’s how you win.”

The Red Raiders are now 5-4 against AP Top 25 teams this season after going 27-for-55 (49.1%) from the field, 7-for-20 on 3-pointers (35.0%), and 17-for-24 (70.8%) at the free-throw line. Baylor finished 5-for-21 (23.8%) on 3s, 11-of-18 at the free-throw line, and 26-for-59 (44.1%) from the field. The Bears came into the game averaging 82.0 points per game.
Ja’Kobe Walter led Baylor with 15 points, while Jayden Nunn scored 14 and RayJ Dennis had 12 points and five assists.

Tech took a 40-27 lead into halftime with Isaacs leading the way with 15 points while Toussaint had eight points and Yalaho five more. The Red Raiders took control of the first half with a 16-0 run that gave them a 16-2 lead early in the game. Tech had a 22-12 rebounding advantage in the first half and would have a 10-0 scoring advantage on second-chance baskets. Isaacs had two 3-pointers while McMillian had one in a first half where Tech was 3-for-10 on 3-pointers and Baylor was just 1-for-8. Isaacs scored Tech’s first basket on its opening possession with a layup to even the game at 2-2 after Walter had opened the game with a jumper with BU winning the tip. Tech took its first lead with Isaacs making two free throws on the next trip down for a 4-2 lead and was on a 13-0 run with a Toussaint layup and jumper followed by an and-one from Jennings and another runner from Isaacs for a 13-2 lead going into the first media timeout of the game. The run was capped at 16-0 run with Isaacs hitting a 3-pointer on a second chance basket before a Baylor basket for 16-4 score. Williams turnaround-jumper for a 18-9 lead for his first points while McMillian hit his first 3-pointer of the game off an assist from Toussaint for a 23-13 lead midway through first half. He was followed by Toussaint slashing to the basket for a layup and 12-point lead before Isaacs hit again, pushing the lead to 28-13 and giving him 12 points. Yalaho would push Tech’s lead to 35-19 with a tough inside basket for his first points of the game.

The halftime lead grew to a 43-29 advantage with an and-one from Williams off an in-bounds play before a Jennings dunk had it back to a 16-point lead. Baylor would cut it to 48-38 with a pair of Nunn free throws six minutes into the second half and to 49-42 with a Missi jumper. Another Missi make and free throw trimmed the Tech lead to 49-45 with 12 minutes to play. Yalaho would stop a 7-0 run by the Bears with a layup off an assist from Washington before a McMillian layup pushed Tech’ s lead to 53-45 with 10 minute on the clock. The Bears would take their first lead since early in the game with Walter hitting a 3-pointer to push the run to 9-0 and score to 54-53. Isaacs responded with a 3 of his own as the teams exchanged baskets and leads. Williams would hit his first 3-pointer of the game for a 59-56 lead and a Walton 3-pointer pushed it to 62-56  as the Red Raiders made their response with a 3-point barrage. Walton hit another, pushing the lead to 65-56 with five minutes to play before a Jenning layup had the lead back to 11. Tech was on a 13-3 run when Williams made a jumper to give it a 69-59 lead with just under four minutes remaining.

Tech’s win avenged a 79-73 loss to Baylor on February 6 in Waco and gives the Red Raiders an 83-65 all-time advantage in the series.

Release Provided By Wes Bloomquist Texas Tech Athletics

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