LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Josh Gray couldn’t hide his excitement after Texas Tech pulled out the victory in a back-and-forth game against Iowa State.
“You can tell it on my face right now, that was a big win,” the true freshman said after scoring 16 points in the Red Raiders’ 56-51 win Wednesday night. “I’ve never won like that before in my life.”
Jordan Tolbert added 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Dejan Kravic had eight points and eight rebounds for the Red Raiders (9-8, 2-4 Big 12).
Will Clyburn led the Cyclones (13-5, 3-2) with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Korie Lucious added 11 points, nine of them from beyond the arc, but Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg was disappointed in his team’s performance.
“We had really good practices this week, great shoot-around this morning,” Hoiberg said. “I fully anticipated coming out and playing great basketball tonight. ... For whatever reason, we hit some adversity tonight and we just didn’t handle it very well.”
Texas Tech took a 48-47 lead on a Tolbert field goal with 3:20 remaining. A Gray lay-in as the shot clock expired made it 50-47 with 2:32 left.
“Coach (Chris Walker) came in the locker room before the game and told us to play our game, have fun and play with confidence,” Gray said. “That’s what I did tonight.”
The teams traded baskets, and the Red Raiders led by three again, 54-51, with just under 40 seconds remaining. Clyburn attempted a 3-pointer to tie the game with 14 seconds left but came up short. Tolbert went to the line again and made both free throws to seal the victory.
Texas Tech took a 28-25 lead into halftime, but Iowa State opened the half on an 8-0 run, leaving the Red Raiders trailing 33-28 — the largest deficit of the day for either team. Walker then called a crucial timeout.
“I wasn’t going to let it get out of hand,” Walker said of his young team’s tendency to let games slip away after getting down. “I said to the guys, ‘Here’s that point again, here’s where we lose focus.’ . That’s been our theme; we play good for 28 (minutes) or we play good for 32. We’ve got to play good for 40 minutes, and I’m proud of my guys because they proved they could do it against a quality opponent.”
Texas Tech fought back, going on a 14-6 run led by Gray and Jaye Crockett. Gray was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws with 8:57 to play, tying the game at 39.
Tolbert then added two free throws of his own to put the Red Raiders back in front. He added a field goal on the following possession to give Tech a 43-39 lead.
Lucious didn’t let the Cyclones trail for long, hitting two quick 3-pointers to put Iowa State back ahead 47-46 with 3:57 left.
But the Red Raiders would once again regain the lead on a Tolbert field goal with 3:20 remaining.
Texas Tech outrebounded Iowa State 38-29, including a 20-12 advantage in the first half. The Red Raiders shot just 68 percent from the free-throw line but seemed to connect each time the game was on the line.
The Red Raiders improved to 7-1 this season when leading at halftime.