Texas Tech entered Saturday’s matchup against Iowa State as the team that couldn’t shoot straight.
From deep. From the line. From anywhere. But so much for that — on one surreal day against the ninth-ranked Cyclones, anyway.
The last-place Red Raiders got hot from the 3-point line, stayed hot then simply held on to stun formerly first-place ISU 78-73 before a less-than-packed house at United Supermarkets Arena.
“This should bother the hell out of our players,” Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg said on the Cyclone Radio Network post-game show. “I know it bothers me. We’ve got to find a way to regroup.”
ISU, which fell behind by as many as 19 points in the first half, finally found itself late in Saturday’s game.
The Cyclones (14-4, 4-2) trailed 62-52 with 1:59 left, but Monté Morris and Dustin Hogue delivered back-to-back traditional 3-point plays in less than a minute to cut the deficit to four at 72-68.
Georges Niang later drilled a line-drive, banked-in 3-pointer after trying to draw a foul to make the score 74-71 and following a pair of Toddrick Gotcher free throws, Matt Thomas hit a mid-range jumper to keep the deficit at three points with 23 seconds left.
Then, an extra dose of weirdness capped a bizarre afternoon. Tech big man Aaron Ross got trapped in the corner on the inbounds play and swung his elbows, one of which connected with Jameel McKay’s face. Officials could have called a flagrant 1 — and ISU would have shot two free throws and retained possession. Instead, Ross’s infraction was deemed a common foul.
Morris got a good look at a potentially game-tying 3-pointer, but it fell short just like 24 of the Cyclones’ other offerings from beyond the arc (they were 6 of 31 from deep). Tech’s second-half star, Devaughntah Williams, then sealed the shocker with a pair of free throws.
“I was searching,” said Hoiberg, who even plucked little-used freshman point guard Clayton Custer from the bench to spell Morris in the first half. "It was one of those games, you search for the right group to go out there and inject energy into the game and it was just too late. It took us too long to get into that.”
Morris scored 20 second-half points to lead ISU, which had assists on just 10 of 27 field goals. Thomas chipped in 12 points off the bench, including a pair of 3-pointers late in the first half that chopped a 17-point deficit to 11.
“We made a little run, it just wasn’t enough,” Thomas said. “We have to find ourselves right now.”
Texas Tech found its shooting touch for one of the first times this season. The Red Raiders — who went 0-for-21 from long distance earlier this season against Loyola (Ill.) — excelled in every area they usually struggle in.
Three-pointers? Tech hit 11 of 24 (they were ranked 296th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage).
Free throws? The Red Raiders drained 23 of 28 (they were ranked 291st nationally in free throw shooting percentage).
They made them in crunch time, too, going 7 of 8 in the final 2:16.
“Give them credit,” Hoiberg said.
“This loss was not acceptable,” Morris said.
Williams scored a career-high 22 points. Gotcher scored 17 and did most of his damage during a jaw-dropping 20-1 run early in the first half.
“End of the day, you can’t come out like that,” Morris said.
True enough. Thus the Cyclones, Hoiberg said, “have some soul-searching to do” in advance of an 8 p.m. Big Monday matchup with No. 17 Texas, which lost at home to the Jayhawks.
“It just drives me nuts to know we allowed that to happen, really for the second straight time on the road after falling behind to Baylor 18-1 last week,” Hoiberg said. “It’s just maddening to think your guys don’t come out of the locker room with more passion and energy than that.”