Texas Tech beats North Texas 60-45
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Texas Tech's schedule is about to become much more difficult.
The Red Raiders finished their nonconference schedule with a 60-45 win Monday night against North Texas. They open Big 12 play Saturday with No. 11 Texas, one of the six Big 12 teams in the Top 25.
''It's definitely going to be a different type of basketball,'' Red Raiders center Isaiah Manderson said. ''Guys are better. We've just got to come ready and be focused to play.''
Monday's win makes the Red Raiders 10-3 for the 13th time and 10-0 at home for the 10th time in 90 seasons. They also have won at least 10 games before conference play for the seventh time.
Devaugntah Williams scored 14 points to lead the Red Raiders, and Manderson added 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting with five rebounds. The Red Raiders shot 19 of 44 (43.3 percent).
''Their zone gave us all kinds of issues early on,'' Red Raiders coach Tubby Smith said. ''Our inability to take care of the basketball was a big reason why we weren't able to get into much of a flow.''
But North Texas (6-6) also struggled throughout the first half, shooting 9 of 28 (32.1 percent) and scoring just 22 points. The latter figure was the lowest Texas Tech has allowed this season.
Jordan Williams scored 20 points for the Mean Green.
The Red Raiders started the second half on a 9-3 run to turn a four-point lead to 35-25. They led by double digits for the majority of the final 10 minutes.
The victory broke a two-game losing streak, which came by a combined 31 points to Loyola of Chicago and Houston in the final two rounds of the Las Vegas Classic. But the Red Raiders have plenty to work upon before they start playing against arguably the best conference in college basketball.
They continued to struggle from 3-point range. The Red Raiders shot 8 of 43 (18.6) percent in their two losses and were 2 of 15 (13.3 percent) against North Texas. They also committed 19 turnovers while making 19 field goals.
''There are some things we need to get better at - obviously taking care of the basketball,'' Smith said. ''We can't turn it over 19 times against Texas or anybody else and expect to win.''
North Texas: The Mean Green are coached by former Texas Tech point guard Tony Benford, who made his first trip back to Texas Tech as North Texas' head coach. He played for the Red Raiders from 1982-86, leading them to the Southwest Conference regular-season and tournament championships in 1985. He ranks eighth in Texas Tech program history with 341 career assists.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have held 12 of 13 opponents to fewer than 70 points this season, the best mark for the team since the 1951-52 season. No Smith-coached team has held its opponents to fewer than 70 points in at least 11 of 12 games since the 1996-97 Georgia Bulldogs.
North Texas hosts Texas-El Paso on Friday to open Conference USA play.
Texas Tech hosts Texas on Saturday to open Big 12 play.
Red Raiders forward Justin Gray is battling tendinitis in both knees, Smith said. Gray finished with just two points and one steal in nine minutes Monday night and was held scoreless in nine minutes in Texas Tech's previous game Dec. 23 against Houston. . Red Raiders forward Zach Smith returned to the lineup after dealing with a back injury and led the team with three assists.