On Wednesday night, No. 17 Texas Tech defeated against the Abilene Christian Wildcats 51-44 in United Supermarkets Arena.
“There’s a reason they’re an undefeated team,” head coach Chris Beard said after the game. “It wasn’t our plan to be in a one-possession game, but we were prepared for a one-possession game.
“I think that’s a team that will compete for its championship.”
The game started with a strong defensive tone, a staple for both teams. At the under-16 minutes media timeout, the score was a 2-1 Tech lead with the only points coming off free-throws. The teams had also combined for five turnovers.
The scrappiness continued to the 12-minute timeout, with the score only stretching to a 7-6 ACU lead. Tech was shooting just 18 percent and had four team turnovers at the timeout.
After Tech went small, playing five guards at once, they were finally able to get their offense going. The Red Raiders went on a 10-0 run near the ten-minute mark in the first half.
As junior guard Kyler Edwards continued to make shots, Tech stretched that run to 17-2 with 6:06 remaining in the first half. Edwards had already scored 10 points at that point.
As the Tech offense began to improve, their defense did not let up. With less than four minutes left until halftime, the Wildcats had made just one of their last 13 shot attempts. They also had not scored in four and a half minutes.
Tech closed the first half slow on the offensive end, failing to score a point in the final five minutes and two seconds. Still, Tech went into the halftime break with a 23-14 lead.
To start the second half, the Wildcats came out of the gates strong. ACU went on a quick 6-0 run to cut the score to just 22-25.
Abilene Christian willed their way all the way back into a tied game with just under 13 minutes left.
The Wildcats would continue fighting, taking a 36-35 lead with eight minutes left in the game.
“We had a game-plan for it, we as players just need to execute,” Edwards said on the Wildcats’ defense after the game.
The game continued to be a defensive fight, with Tech heavily relying on the free-throw line for scoring. After a poor 5-12 performance from the line in the first half, Tech shot a much improved 20-25 in the second.
“We weren’t trying to get negative in the locker room,” Edwards said on the halftime adjustment after the game. “We just wanted to play our game.”
Free-throws were ultimately the securing factor for Tech, who won the game 51-44.
Leading the charge defensively for Tech was senior forward Marcus Santos-Silva, who had a career-high four blocks.
Edwards would finish as the game’s leading scorer with 19 points. He also led the Red Raiders in rebounding, crashing seven boards.
The Red Raiders would end the night making nearly twice as many free-throws (25) than they did field goals (12).
“I thought some of our shots tonight were not disciplined shots,” Beard said on his teams shooting after the game. “We basically found a way to win the game from the free-throw line tonight.”