As soon as Keenan Evans saw his go-ahead 3-pointer go through the net, the Texas Tech senior had a message for the Red Raiders.
“OK, we’re here,” Evans told them. “Let’s finish this game.”
Thanks to Evans, No. 14 Texas Tech did. Evans scored 31 points and Texas Tech rallied from five points down with 6 minutes left to defeat South Carolina 70-63 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.
After the Gamecocks (13-8) built a 58-53 lead, Evans scored eight of his team’s next nine points to move in front. His 3-pointer from left of the foul line put the Red Raiders (17-4) up for good, 62-61, with 2:12 left.
“Evans was coming at us every play because he’s not going to allow his team to lose,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said.
Evans closed things out with a three-point play with 46 seconds left to secure the win in the teams’ first meeting since December 1976.
Texas Tech outscored South Carolina 17-5 over the final six minutes.
Evans had four 3-pointers and made all 13 of his foul shots. Zhaire Smith scored 11 points, the only other Texas Tech player in double figures.
Evans felt the Red Raiders had gone passive early in the second half as South Carolina wiped out an eight-point deficit to take the lead. He took it upon himself to up his game down the stretch. “Being aggressive is what I needed to do,” he said.
Evans was nearly unstoppable in the second half. He made five of seven shots, three of them 3-pointers, and hit all eight foul shots.
“They locked in and we lost our mind,” South Carolina’s Chris Silva said.
The Gamecocks appeared to be on the verge of rallying against another Top 25 opponent. They came from 14 points down to top then 18th-ranked Kentucky 76-68 on Jan. 16, then were 11 points down at No. 20 Florida before their 77-72 win Wednesday night.
This time, though, South Carolina’s rally came up short, as it missed six of its final seven field-goal tries.
Silva led the Gamecocks with 16 points before fouling out in the final minute.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders went into a massive shooting funk with about five minutes left in the opening half. They went 6 for 20 during a 20-minute stretch that saw them squander an eight-point lead and trail 58-53 with 6:20 left. Texas Tech came in sixth in Big 12 Conference shooting at 47.1 percent a game.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have had a knack for coming out on top in ugly games, but aggressive play cost South Carolina in this one. Frank Booker was called for an intentional foul with the Gamecocks holding a lead, and two starters, forward Silva and point guard Wesley Myers, fouled out. Texas Tech made 23 of its 28 foul shots.
Red Raiders coach Chris Beard gushed about the loud atmosphere at South Carolina, particularly in the second half when Zhaire Smith missed two foul shots with less than 7 minutes left that had the crowd of 14,142 roaring. When told it was part of a promotion that gave fans a free chicken sandwich, Beard chuckled, then looked around for any Texas Tech administrators. “Can we get in on that?” he joked.
Texas Tech goes home to play Texas on Wednesday night.
South Carolina finishes a two-game homestand against Mississippi State on Wednesday night.
Winthrop 75, Campbell 64: Xavier Cooks scored 21 points and Bjorn Broman scored 18 as the Eagles (13-8, 7-3 Big South Conference) ended the game with a 16-4 run to beat Campbell (12-10, 6-4).
Josh Ferguson made a layup to put Winthrop out front 56-50 with 9:34 left before Campbell’s Andrew Eudy and Marcus Burk made back-to-back 3 to tie it. Broman sandwiched a pair of layups between Eudy’s jumper on successive possessions and Winthrop led the rest of the way. Eudy’s jumper with 5:19 left reduced the Camels’ deficit to 66-64 but they didn’t score again and missed their last seven shots.
Cooks made half of his 20-shot attempts and grabbed eight rebounds, Anders Broman scored 12 points and Josh Ferguson scored 11 with nine rebounds.
Eudy led Campbell with 22 points, Burk scored 15 and Chris Clemons added 11.
Gardner-Webb 60, Longwood 57: Freshman Jaheam Cornwall scored six of his 11 second-half points as the Runnin’ Bulldogs (11-12, 6-4 Big South) closed the game on a 17-4 run to beat the Lancers (6-17, 3-7).
Cornwall finished with 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting, including three 3-pointers. David Efianayi added 20 points and D.J. Laster scored 11 for Gardner-Webb.
Longwood used a 13-4 spurt to take a 10-point lead with about 8 1 / 2 minutes to play, but then missed 13 of 15 – including its final six – field-goal attempts. Cornwall sandwiched two layups around a pair of free throws by Efianayi to trim the deficit to 55-53. Isaiah Walton answered with a jumper with 4:07 remaining, but Gardner-Webb outscored the Lancers 7-0 from there.
The Runnin' Bulldogs shot just 37 percent (11 of 30) from the field in the first half and missed its first five shots of the second, but made 7 of 10 over the final nine-plus minutes.
Walton scored 16 points and B.K. Ashe added 10 for Longwood. Damarion Geter had seven points and 11 rebounds – his third consecutive game with at least 10 boards.
No. 3 Queens 91 Anderson 68: Todd Withers scored 29 points and added six rebounds and four assists as the Royals (20-1, 12-1 South Atlantic) crushed the visiting Trojans (7-13, 5-7). Mike Davis added 14 points and six rebounds for Queens. Ike Agusi led the Royals with five assists and scored 12 points.
Johnson C. Smith 76, Winston-Salem 75: Robert Davis scored 29 points with seven rebounds, both team highs, and Roddric Ross added 23 as the Golden Bulls (12-7, 5-2 CIAA) rallied to beat the Rams (4-15, 2-8). Christian Kirchman added 10 points and five assists. Anthony Harper pulled down seven rebounds as well. The Golden Bulls hit 70 percent from the free-throw line.
Observer staff contributed to this report.