It was over when: You could say the final nail in the coffin was Sterling Gibbs’ uncontested 3-pointer from the wing, giving Texas a 62-37 lead with nine minutes to play. But Texas Tech hardly gave Texas much of a fight prior to that shot and never led in this game.
After UT jumped out to a 7-0 lead to open the game, the Red Raiders scored to make it a 5-point game. Tech never got any closer than 5 the rest of the night, and Texas cruised to a 74-57 victory at the Frank Erwin Center.
Texas entered the game losers of five of its past six. The antidote to its troubles? A Red Raiders squad that’s sloppy on the offensive end and foul-happy on defense. Tech remained winless in Big 12 play at 0-10 and has lost them by an average margin of 17 points.
How the game was won: By setting the tone early -- Texas thrived by going right at the Red Raiders on the inside. Physical post play aided by effective drive-and-dish guard play drew 14 Tech fouls in the first half, and Texas Tech struggled to find consistent tempo and open looks offensively.
Tech shot 28.1 percent from the field in the half and didn’t get in a rhythm until Texas went on cruise control for the game’s final 10 minutes. Clint Chapman and the rest of the Longhorns interior defense didn’t make things any easier in combining for 10 blocks, eight of which came in first half.
In the middle: Chapman stepped his game up on the offensive glass and turned them into a lot of easy buckets, scoring a season-high 20 thanks in part to four offensive rebounds. His best came on a first-half fast break, when he threw down a put-back dunk off a Myck Kabongo miss. He grabbed nine rebounds and Texas enjoyed a 41-25 advantage on the boards.
On the perimeter: Sheldon McClellan returned to the starting lineup and bounced back from a scoring slump with 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting. The freshman guard had scored a total of 9 points in Texas’ last three contests but came out hot to open each half Saturday. His nice night made up for relatively quiet one from Kabongo (7 points on 1 of 5 shooting), and J’Covan Brown added another 17 and dished out four assists.
Stat of the game: Texas’ 25-for-31 shooting at the line changed the complexion of this game, particularly in the first half. The Red Raiders committed their seventh foul of the half with more than 10 minutes to play and watched as UT knocked down 19 of 22 free throws to take a 15-point lead into the intermission.
The Longhorns had been slumping in this department coming in, hitting on a combined 63.2 percent in their past three contests. Chapman led the way Saturday by knocking down all eight of his attempts, and Brown shot 7-for-8 from the stripe.
What it means: Texas picked up an easy win but could use many more in the next few weeks. At 4-6 in Big 12 play, the Longhorns don’t have any room for slip-ups, and games Monday night at Texas A&M and Saturday against Kansas State will be legit tests of whether this team can climb out of this hole. Rick Barnes wasn’t happy with how lax Texas’ defense once the win was secured. At this point, he’s got to take any win he can get.