LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech coach Chris Beard uses defense to explain how the 21st-ranked Red Raiders hit more 3-pointers in one half than they had in an entire game all season.
Keenan Evans led six players in double figures with 15 points and Texas Tech hit 11 shots from long range while blowing out Florida Atlantic after halftime of a 90-54 victory Tuesday night.
“It’s great our defense can create offense. I think that’s a big part of our identity this year,” Beard said. “Whether this can continue when we get to Big 12 competition is yet to be seen. It’s not just the steals. It’s the help, it’s the contested shots, it’s the rebounding.”
Davide Moretti scored 14 points, Tommy Hamilton IV had 13 and Niem Stevenson made four of six 3-point attempts for all 12 of his points as the Red Raiders (10-1) outscored the Owls 50-21 after halftime.
Texas Tech has won four straight games since a loss at Seton Hall that knocked the Red Raiders out of the Top 25 just after they got in. They returned to the rankings after an overtime win over then-No. 22 Nevada and have followed that with three straight victories by at least 20 points.
Justin Massey led Florida Atlantic (6-5) with 17 points and Ronald Delph added 16. Massey was held to three points in the second half, when the Owls shot 28 percent (8 of 29).
“Sometimes when things are not going good for them offensively, their adjustment is to trap more on the defensive end,” Florida Atlantic coach Michael Curry said of the Red Raiders. “They want to create turnovers so that they can get out and get in transition.”
Evans was 3 of 6 from long range while Culver and Hamilton each made both of their attempts from 3, helping the Red Raiders to a season-high 14 3-pointers while shooting 54 percent from long range. With a previous game high of 10 3s, Texas Tech was 11 of 16 in the second half.
Jarrett Culver scored 11 points and Zhaire Smith added 10 for Texas Tech. Evans had six of the Red Raiders’ 20 assists, and Hamilton had seven rebounds.
The Red Raiders took control with a 25-6 run in the second half for a 70-43 lead with 10 minutes remaining. They had 12 steals a game after getting a season-high 15 against Rice.
Florida Atlantic: The momentum of a four-game winning streak that included a win over Florida Gulf Coast is gone with consecutive losses as the start of Conference USA approaches. “Good game for our guys to play,” Curry said.
Texas Tech: Moretti, a freshman guard from Italy, had a season high in scoring. His other double-figure game was 10 points in the opener. “He’s just getting comfortable, comfortable with being in this country, comfortable with his diet, where he lives, his teammates, language and the academic part of being a student-athlete,” Beard said.
SITTING TO START
Texas Tech senior forward Zach Smith was replaced in the starting lineup by Culver, a freshman, for what Beard said was an unspecified violation of team rules. “Expect Zack to be back in the starting lineup,” Beard said. “Zach’s a great person, great teammate. Mistakes happen from time to time. Not a big deal at all.”
Florida Atlantic: Non-conference finale Saturday at Minnesota before C-USA opener at Florida International on Dec. 30.
Texas Tech: Non-conference finale Friday at home against Abilene Christian before Big 12 opener at home against Baylor on Dec. 29.