LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech bounced back from a loss that knocked the Red Raiders out of the Top 25 by beating Nevada in the Wolf Pack’s first game in the poll in 10 years.
Keenan Evans scored 25 of his career-high 32 points in the second half and overtime and the Red Raiders rallied from 11 points down after halftime to beat No. 22 Nevada 82-76 on Tuesday night.
“Every game is big game to me but this one I guess was big because we’re trying to get back in the rankings,” said Zhaire Smith, who opened overtime with a dunk that put Texas Tech ahead for good. “That was a ranked team and if we didn’t win that, it was going to be hard to get back in the rankings until Big 12 play.”
Caleb Martin scored a season-high 28 points and twin brother Cody Martin matched his best of the season with 22 in the Wolf Pack’s first game as a ranked team since finishing the 2006-07 season at No. 15. Nevada (8-1) was off to its best start as a Division I school (since 1970).
The Red Raiders (7-1) went without a field goal for the final 5 minutes of regulation but made six straight free throws down the stretch, including two from Justin Gray with 23 seconds left to force overtime at 70-70.
Evans scored eight in the extra period, six on free throws as he went 13 of 19 from the line. The Red Raiders were 26 of 38 on free throws to 14 of 17 for the Wolf Pack.
“I thought free throws attempted was the difference in the game,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “I thought we shot the ball well enough to win. I thought we defended for sure.”
Evans had eight rebounds to lead the Red Raiders, who were coming off a loss to Seton Hall that knocked them out of the Top 25 the same week they got in.
Caleb Martin was 6 of 12 from 3-point range, including one that gave the Wolf Pack their biggest lead of the second half at 50-39 with just under 13 minutes to go. Martin had another 3 to get Nevada within two in overtime, but Smith answered with a layup.
“Patience isn’t one of my strengths,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I give our staff a lot of credit tonight. We didn’t have any panic timeouts. We didn’t really get negative. We stayed positive.”
Niem Stevenson scored 11 for Texas Tech, and Smith had 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Kendall Stephens scored 15 points for Nevada, and Jordan Caroline had a game-high 12 rebounds.
Nevada: It’s a disappointing return to the Top 25 for the Wolf Pack considering they were up 11 in the second half. But the Martin twins having their best game together was an encouraging sign. And Nevada was in position to win despite a poor shooting night from Caroline (2 of 9).
Texas Tech: This was probably the best test remaining for the Red Raiders before the start of Big 12 play. It might have been enough to get them back in the poll, and Beard was complimentary of a rowdy student turnout that he thought helped with the comeback.
The Wolf Pack had a season-high 21 turnovers after committing a season-low five in an otherwise ragged win at UC Irvine. “We’re a tired group,” Musselman said. “That’s our fifth road game. I thought as the game wore on, the toll of travel, we didn’t play very good at Irvine the other night.”
Nevada: Another ranked opponent in No. 20 TCU on Friday on a neutral court in Los Angeles.
Texas Tech: Kennesaw State at home on Dec. 13.