Texas Tech beats Minnesota 81-68 in Puerto Rico Tipoff
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith didn't want to make a big deal out of facing his former Minnesota program.
Turns out, the veteran coach did feel a little extra emotion about it after all.
Devaugntah Williams scored 21 points to help Texas Tech beat Minnesota 81-68 in Sunday's fifth-place game at the Puerto Rico Tipoff, giving Smith a win against the program he led for six seasons.
''It's sort of like ... when I played against my sons in the backyard or playing against relatives or close friends,'' Smith said. ''That's tough to do because you respect them, you care about them, you want them to do well. But you still want to win.''
Zach Smith added 15 points for the Red Raiders (3-1), who led by six at halftime, then used a 7-0 burst to stretch the lead out to double figures midway through the second half against the Gophers (3-2).
The Red Raiders never let that margin dip below nine again, shooting 52 percent after halftime.
Smith coached the Gophers from 2007-13, going 124-81 and reaching the NCAA Tournament three times. That included earning the program's first NCAA victory season since 2005 in his final year, but the school fired Smith after he never posted a winning record in the Big Ten and hired Richard Pitino.
Pitino is now in his third season, and there's only one player left on the Gophers roster that Smith recruited. And after Friday's win against Mississippi State, Smith sounded more focused on having his team finish strong at 2-1 in Puerto Rico.
Smith said Sunday his staff was ''pretty fired up'' by the reunion.
''We wanted to do it for them,'' Williams said. ''I mean, we could feel it. Everybody's had that type of moment in their life where something wasn't good at the place before. We knew how the coaching staff felt about it.''
Carlos Morris and Joey King each scored 15 points for Minnesota, which never put together enough baskets and stops - they usually got one or the other - once Texas Tech finally gained a cushion.
''I thought our guys fought hard,'' Pitino said. ''I liked the way they competed this tournament. We just didn't execute a whole lot today.''
Minnesota: Minnesota shot 52 percent and made 4 of 20 3-pointers. ... The Gophers had seven assists and 15 turnovers. ... They were whistled for 26 fouls, sending Texas Tech to the line 29 times.
Texas Tech: Keenan Evans had 12 points. ... The Red Raiders hit 6 of 12 3-point tries. ... Texas Tech finished with a 35-30 rebounding advantage and a 16-6 edge in points off turnovers.
MORE FROM TUBBY
Smith said he was glad to have the game behind him due to some of the reunion ''drama'' and said he appreciated hearing from a few former Minnesota players beforehand
He also saved a bit of a zinger for late in his postgame news conference.
''Like I said before, we tried to do things the right way up there,'' he said. ''And I'm sure that - I know we did. I'm really happy we were able to come to a place like Texas Tech, come to Lubbock, where they'll celebrate you and you're not just tolerated.''
STRETCHING IT OUT
Texas Tech assisted on eight of its first 11 baskets after halftime to steadily build momentum, and Toddrick Gotcher's 3-pointer capped the 7-0 burst for a 65-52 lead with 8:46 left.
''The offense wasn't really the biggest issue to me,'' Pitino said. ''It wasn't great certainly, but it's the defense that really needs to be fixed.''
Minnesota hosts Omaha on Friday.
Texas Tech hosts Hawaii on Saturday.
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