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