Texas Tech holds off Mississippi State 74-72 in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) Texas Tech did just enough to set up a reunion for coach Tubby Smith with his previous team.
Devaugntah Williams scored 15 points to help the Red Raiders hold off Mississippi State 74-72 in Friday's consolation bracket at the Puerto Rico Tipoff.
Keenan Evans added 13 points for the Red Raiders (2-1), who survived two shots for the tie on the final play to set up a date with Minnesota - the program Smith coached from 2007-13 before arriving Texas Tech.
''It'll be interesting to see some of the familiar faces,'' Smith said.
The Bulldogs (1-3) had the ball last with a chance to tie, but freshman Malik Newman missed a drive, then Gavin Ware missed a putback attempt through contact in the frantic final sequence. Zach Smith secured the final rebound shortly before the horn sounded.
''We really had to really reach down and gut it out,'' Smith said. ''Our kids showed a lot of toughness tonight, a lot of intestinal fortitude.''
Smith finished with 12 points, including a critical late basket when he went up and stuffed home his own miss for a 74-70 lead with 1:17 left before ending up on his back in the lane.
''I didn't really realize I could reach it,'' Smith said. ''I was just going to tip it in. I was able to reach the rim so it worked out.''
Newman finished with 17 points to lead Mississippi State, but the touted rookie made just 6 of 17 shots.
Texas Tech led by 13 late in the first half and 41-32 at the break behind 16 points off turnovers, but shot just 34 percent after halftime as Mississippi State turned to a zone defense to push its way back into the game.
The Bulldogs shot 50 percent in the second half, eventually tying the game on Newman's driving basket for a three-point play with 7:39 left.
It was a much better showing for Mississippi State compared to the previous night, when the Bulldogs lost 105-79 to Miami.
''These guys are competitors and it showed tonight,'' first-year coach Ben Howland said. ''That's why I think it was a real positive. We competed hard. I mean, last night we were just outmatched.''
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs made 8 of 27 3-point tries for the game. ... I.J. Ready had 11 points. ... Mississippi State had trouble keeping Texas Tech off the glass in the zone, surrendering 11 offensive boards after halftime.
Texas Tech: Norense Odiase had 10 rebounds. ... Toddrick Gotcher added 11 points. .... Texas Tech made 18 of 23 foul shots after going just 6-for-14 after halftime in Thursday's loss to No. 16 Utah.
THE FINAL PLAY
Ware, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, couldn't finish the final-sequence stickback through contact on a play that had the Bulldogs bench crying out for a foul.
''I thought Gavin had a chance to have that call for him,'' Howland said, ''but at the end of the day, they hit a couple of big shots down the stretch.''
Ware also committed a flagrant foul when he popped Aaron Ross near the chin away from the ball in the second half, setting up two free throws for Ross.
Smith's two free throws with 2:46 left finally put the Red Raiders ahead for good, though Odiase - a career 48 percent foul shooter - missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity with 27.4 seconds left that gave the Bulldogs one last chance to tie or win.
Mississippi State will play Missouri State in Sunday's seventh-place game.
Texas Tech will play the Minnesota in Sunday's fifth-place game.
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