UCF tops No. 23 Texas Tech

ORLANDO, Florida – No. 23 Texas Tech and UCF split their regular-season matchups after the Knights earned a 75-61 win on Saturday at Addition Financial Arena.

The Red Raiders (19-8, 8-6 Big 12) were outscored 32-12 in the paint and committed 14 turnovers against the Knights (14-12, 5-9 Big 12) who snapped a four-game losing streak and evened the series after taking 66-59 loss in Lubbock on Feb. 10. Tech, which played without Chance McMillian who was out with a sore hip, fell to 2-5 on the road in Big 12 play.

“Anytime we felt like we were kind of getting close, one of their guys stepped up and made a really great play,” Texas Tech coach Grant McCasland said. “Ultimately, in these games, we need to make threes and counterpunch. We weren’t able to do that. UCF had a lot to do with that. Their defense caused us problems and we had problems keeping them out of the paint. Their length and athleticism caused us problems all night.”

Texas Tech returns to Lubbock to host Texas at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at United Supermarkets in a rematch of a 78-67 win by the Red Raiders back on January 6 in Austin. Tech is currently 14-1 on its home court this season after an 82-81 win over TCU last Tuesday and now has two home games remaining. Though limited, tickets do remain available for the Texas game and the regular-season finale against Baylor at this link.

Darrion Williams led the Red Raiders with 19 points and 11 rebounds to record his eighth double-double of the season, while Kerwin Walton hit four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points. Pop Isaacs finished with eight points and four rebounds, while Joe Toussaint had three assists, two steals, and three points. Warren Washington returned from a foot injury that had sidelined him for two games and finished with two rebounds in 12:34. He was 0-for-1 shooting and didn’t score. Eemeli Yalaho scored a career-high eight points with two second-half 3-pointers and Robert Jennings had five points and four rebounds. Williams was 6-for-14 from the field and 6-of-7 at the free-throw line for his sixth straight game in double figures.

Tech dropped to 4-5 as a ranked team after shooting 8-for-28 (28.6%) on 3-pointers and going 13-for-20 (65%) at the free-throw line. UCF was 27-for-58 (46.6%) from the field, 6-for-12 on 3-pointers, and went 15-for-19 at the free-throw line.

“They have a lot of length and played great defense,” McCasland said. “They pressed back to zone, the full-court pressure. I thought we had some decent looks, but when those don’t go in you can feel the squeeze of their defense and rotations.”

Darius Johnson led UCF with 16 points, five assists, and four steals, while Jaylin Sellers had 15 points. Ibrahima Diallo, who didn’t play in the game in Lubbock, added six points and two blocked shots. Shemarri Allen had nine points and C.J. Walker eight from the starting lineup in a game where 10 players in the UCF lineup scored. Tech had six players score in the game. The Knights had only eight turnovers and finished with an 18-7 scoring advantage off them.

UCF took a 36-32 lead into halftime after the Red Raiders were limited to 36.7 percent shooting and were just 4-for-14 on 3-pointers. Williams led Tech with 13 points and seven rebounds at the break, while Walton had 12 after going 3-for-5 on 3-pointers. Jennings had five points and three rebounds but also four fouls through 20 minutes of play. Williams was 5-for-11 from the field and 1-for-2 on 3-pointers. Tech went into the break shooting 6-for-8 at the free-throw line while UCF was 7-of-11 at the line. The Knights were shooting 13-for-27 (48.1%) from the field and were 3-for-8 on 3-pointers. Sellers led UCF with nine points at halftime. Williams gave Tech a 2-0 lead with a jumper on the first possession after he had an offensive rebound on his first shot to begin the game and Walton hit Tech’s first 3-pointer of the game for a 5-2 lead. Tech led 12-7 after Walton threw down a dunk and Williams hit a jumper. Another turnaround jumper by Williams gave him six points and the Red Raiders a 19-15 lead before UCF went on an 8-0 run and led 23-19. Williams would stop the run but UCF would go on another 8-0 run and led 34-27. Williams made his first 3-pointer of the game to stop the run again but the Knights would get a putback at the halftime buzzer to go into the break with a four-point lead. Tech was 4-6 when trailing at halftime coming into the game.

UCF started the second half strong and controlled it throughout, taking a 45-38 lead on a Sylla 3-pointer before Isaacs responded with his first 3-pointer of the game and a Toussaint jumper brought it back to the four-point hole. Walton would drill his fourth 3-pointer of the game to make it 49-46 with 12 minutes to play and a tough inside shot from Williams had it at 51-48.  UCF had a response of its own though, making a 7-0 run and taking a 60-51 lead on a Johnson 3-pointer with 7:30 remaining. A free throw by Isaacs stopped the run but was followed by a 3-pointer from Johnson to push UCF’s lead to 63-52 with five minutes to play.

UCF pulled away with a 10-0 run and Tech going 0-for-8 from the field before a Yalaho 3-pointer to make it 73-57 with one minute remaining in the game.

Release Provided By Wes Bloomquist Texas Tech Athletics

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