Texas Tech downs Sam Houston State 71-56
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — For a time, Tubby Smith considered moving Zach Smith to small forward this season.
But the Texas Tech coach saw his 6-foot-8 sophomore continually produce at power forward and kept him there.
Smith set a career-high with 14 rebounds in Texas Tech’s 71-56 win over Sam Houston State Wednesday night and center Norense Odiase tied a career high with 16 points — the second consecutive strong performance the frontcourt pair has turned in.
“Norense has the bulk,” Smith said. “But Norense also had quick feet. And he has the aggressiveness to go with it. He’s sort of the enforcer. Zach is spindly. Versatile. Leaper.”
Odiase was 5 of 7 from the field and disrupted Devaugntah Williams’ five-game streak of leading Texas Tech (5-1) in scoring.
Four Texas Tech players scored in double digits and Odiase and guard Toddrick Gotcher (11 points) both scored above their season average.
“With the inside game going well, that opens up the outside game and the open drives,” Gotcher said. “They don’t want to commit to the guards because they’re scared that the post men are going to score easy.”
Williams scored 15 points and sophomore Keenan Evans, who has started all six games this season after starting three last year, had 11.
Williams entered the game second in the Big 12 in scoring with 18.8 points per game behind Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield (22 points).
“He’s getting most of the shots, but that’s because he’s our leading scorer and our best shooter,” Smith said of Williams.
Sam Houston State (2-5) entered the game averaging 74.2 points per game and shooting 41.4 percent from the floor.
The Bearkats shot 26.6 percent and made only 2 of 16 shots during a cold streak in the second half. They finished seven of 29 on 3-point attempts.
Torry Butler and Aurimas Majauskas led the Bearkats with nine points apiece.
Dakarai Henderson and Josh Delaney added eight points each.
“It looks like to me, talent-wise, (Tubby Smith)’s got a team that can compete in the Big 12,” Sam Houston coach Jason Hooten said.
Texas Tech’s Justin Gray, who had a resurgent performance against Hawaii after dealing with knee tendinitis this year, entered the game as a sub and scored a layup off a rebound to give Texas Tech a 22-8 lead.
A Gotcher 3-pointer put the Red Raiders up by 17, their largest lead of the game to that point. Sam Houston answered with a layup just before the half to pull within 38-23.
Texas Tech led by as many as 23 points in the second half.
Sam Houston State won a combined 50 games during the past two seasons, which tied the school’s highest win total in consecutive seasons.
It graduated four All-Southland players from last season, including Michael Holyfield, who signed with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Paul Baxter, Sam Houston’s only returning starter, has not played this season because of a foot injury.
“I think I know what tough is,” Hooten said. “And Paul Baxter is the toughest guy I ever coached. Not having him out there every day in practice and just being there, it’s been tough on our team. And I think that times we probably haven’t played as hard for 40 minutes.”
Sam Houston: Jason Hooten, in his sixth season at Sam Houston, became the Bearkats coach to reach 100 wins the soonest, when Sam Houston beat Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 27.
Texas Tech: Isaiah Manderson, a sophomore forward, left the team this week. ...The Red Raiders are in the midst of an eight-game homestand. Texas Tech plays on the road next at Iowa State on Jan. 6.
RED RAIDER ADVANTAGE
Texas Tech improves to 8-2 all-time against Sam Houston. The Bearkats last beat the Red Raiders in 2007.
Sam Houston hosts Sul Ross 2 p.m. Sunday.
Texas Tech hosts Tennessee-Martin on Dec. 9 at 8 p.m.