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DALLAS, TEXAS (March 15, 2018) The No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders (25-9) started the game slowly, but came back to life in the final five minutes of the game to down the No. 14 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (28-7) by the score of 70-60 in the first round game for both schools at the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in Dallas. The near capacity crowd at the America Airlines Center saw the Lumberjacks control most of the game, but falter down the stretch. The Red Raiders trailed most of the game, but pulled ahead with 3:59 left in the game with a layup by Keenan Evans (Richardson, Texas). The two points pushed Tech into the lead 59-58 as they went on to outscore the Lumberjacks 11-2 in the final minutes of the game.
Texas Tech shot a paltry 35% (10-of-28) from the field in the first half, allowing SFA to take a 30-27 lead at half time. They improved their shooting percentage to 57% (15-of-26) in the second half while the Lumberjacks, who shot 37% (9-of-24) in the first half did not improve their shooting (9-of 23, 39%) in the second half. Evans tallied 23 points for the Red Raiders while fellow guard Zhaire Evans added 10. SFA had four players in double figures, with Ivan Canete (Lake Worth, Florida) leading the way with 17.
Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard discussed his thoughts after the game with the press.
"First of all, I just want to congratulate Stephen F. Austin for a great season. They were everything we thought they would be and more. Kyle Keller is a great coach. They've got good players. They've got a program is what they have. You go back to Danny Kaspar and certainly Brad Underwood, and now Kyle has taken it to another level. They just forced us into so many things and took away things, but I just wanted to congratulate them on a good season, and I know Kyle is just getting started building the program there. For our guys, we knew we were going to have to play great to win this game because we knew how good Stephen F. Austin was. I'm really pleased for our players that we advanced to the second round, beating a team that we had nothing but respect for."SFA head coach Kyle Keller also talked with the press after the game.
"I wish we could have ended the game at halftime, obviously, but the game is 40 minutes. I give Texas Tech a tremendous amount of credit. Their Coach Chris Beard, his team embodies his spirit and toughness. And they imposed their will obviously the last 10 minutes or so of the game, and my guys tried. They always try, but we just didn't have enough tonight. We just -- it wasn't our night."
Next up for the Red Raiders will be a Saturday, March 17 meeting with the winner of Florida vs. St Bonaventure. The Gators come into the tournament as the No. 6 seed and a 20-12 record. The Bonnies counter with a 26-7 record and the No. 11 seed.