Mac McClung, Texas Tech Beat Utah State 65-53 to Advance in NCAA Tournament

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2021

Texas Tech's Mac McClung (0) controls the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State in Lubbock, Texas, Thursday, March 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Justin Rex)
Justin Rex/Associated Press

The sixth-seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders advanced to the second round of the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament on Friday with a 65-53 win over the No. 11 Utah State Aggies at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana.

Texas Tech overcame a three-point halftime deficit and shooting just 28 percent from the field in the first half to win the game, doing so on the strength of an 11-0 run in the second half.

The Red Raiders ultimately shot 41.9 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from three, and they forced the Aggies to commit 22 turnovers, which may have been the biggest difference-maker.

Texas Tech is getting used to March Madness success, as it is just two years removed from reaching the national championship game.


Notable Stats

Mac McClung, G, TTU: 16 PTS on 6/16 FG, 3 REB

Kyler Edwards, G, TTU: 12 PTS on 3/8 FG, 6 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL

Kevin McCullar, G, TTU: 10 PTS on 4/10 FG, 7 REB, 3 AST

Justin Bean, F, USU: 13 PTS on 5/9 FG, 8 REB

Neemias Queta, C, USU: 11 PTS on 5/8 FG, 13 REB, 7 BLK, 6 AST


Texas Tech Proves McClung Isn't Only Threat

Texas Tech ran Utah State out of the gym in the second half, and the Red Raiders did it despite leading scorer Mac McClung struggling for stretches and failing to put up huge numbers.

McClung finished with 16 points on the day and shot just 6-of-16 from the floor and 3-of-6 from long range in the win.

It took McClung and the Texas Tech offense quite some time to get going, as McClung didn't convert his first basket until the first half was more than midway over:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

First bucket for McClung. AND-1 😤 https://t.co/937N1hU6MK

As pointed out by Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News, McClung seemed to be off his game early, as were the Raiders as a whole, contributing to their 26-23 deficit at halftime:

Chuck Carlton @ChuckCarltonDMN

No. 11 Utah State up 26-23 on No. 6 Texas Tech at halftime. Red Raiders shooting 28.1 percent from the field and being outrebounded by 10. Mac McClung with nine points for Tech but shooting just 3-of-9.

Despite Texas Tech's poor shooting, head coach Chris Beard's defense forced 13 turnovers by halftime, per David James of KUTV 2, which is why the Red Raiders were still very much in it:

David James @DavidDJJames

USU 26 Texas Tech 23 Half Utah State was wobbling big time, but the Aggies finish the half with a 12-3 run that started with this Brock Miller 3. USU has 13 turnovers TT is shooting 28% from the floor https://t.co/kaOckO24cq

It didn't take long for the tide to turn in the second half thanks to an 11-0 run that occurred with McClung on the bench.

Texas Tech certainly isn't a better team when McClung is on the sideline, but the rest allowed other players to get involved and kept McClung fresh for the stretch run.

The Red Raiders shot the ball much better in the second half, with Terrence Shannon Jr., Kevin McCullar, Kyler Edwards, Micah Peavy and Marcus Santos-Silva all contributing from a scoring perspective.

Perhaps no play better showcased Texas Tech's team basketball and turning defense into offense than a scramble drill with about five minutes left in the game.

After a steal, Peavy threw down a fast-break dunk, extending the TTU lead to 14 and essentially putting the game out of reach:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Texas Tech is going all out this sequence 😤 This is what the tourney is all about https://t.co/mEa1e8rHuX

McClung is undoubtedly Texas Tech's go-to player and will continue to be for as long as the Raiders are in the tournament, but it isn't a one-man show.

The Red Raiders were dominant on the defensive end when they nearly won a national title two years ago, and that was the case once again Friday.

If that continues and they get even better play from McClung, the Raiders are a threat to make a deep run again this year.


Queta Shines for Utah St. with Do-It-All Performance

Friday's showing was ultimately a disappointing one for Utah State, but there was a bright spot in the form of 7-foot center Neemias Queta.

The junior was by far the Aggies' best player, as he filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and a ridiculous seven blocks.

ESPN's Mike Schmitz pointed out that Utah State's halftime lead was largely built on Queta impacting the game in so many ways:

Mike Schmitz @Mike_Schmitz

Impressive first half for Utah State big man Neemias Queta against Texas Tech: 6 blocks, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Altering shots around the rim and really showing his improvement as a passer. https://t.co/X22QkpUqvr

Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman was one of many who were highly impressed with Queta's performance as well:

Brian Davis @BDavisAAS

This dude Queta blocks everybody!

Unfortunately for Queta, he didn't get much help from his teammates, as only two other players scored at least 11 points. Utah State also struggled to take care of the basketball.

Queta played a role in that with five turnovers, but he was spectacular otherwise and undoubtedly boosted his stock as an NBA draft prospect.

If the junior returns to school next season, he will be the driving force behind the Aggies' attempt to return to the NCAA tournament and perhaps have a better result than they did this season.


What's Next?

Texas Tech (19-10) moves on to the second round on Sunday, when it will face third-seeded Arkansas after the Razorbacks beat No. 14 Colgate 85-68 on Friday.