March 16, 2021
No. 6 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Utah State | 12:45 p.m. (CST), Friday | TV: TNT | Bloomington, Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS – No. 21 Texas Tech is set to open the 2021 NCAA Tournament as a No. 6 seed in the South Region against 11th-seeded Utah State at 12:45 p.m. (CST) on Friday at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana.
The Red Raiders (17-10) are coming off a 67-66 loss to No. 9 Texas in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals last Thursday, while the Aggies (20-8) have won six of their past seven games but fell 68-57 to San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament finals. The TTU-Utah State winner will advance to the second round to play the winner of the No. 3 Arkansas and No 14 Colgate matchup which is at 11:45 p.m. on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Mac McClung leads the Red Raiders with 15.7 points per game this season, while Terrence Shannon, Jr. is scoring 12.7 per game. Kevin McCullar and Kyler Edwards are both at 10 points per game to give Tech four double-digit scorers going into the national tournament. Marcus Santos-Silva, who is the lone senior on the team and played in the 2018 NCAA Tournament with VCU, leads TTU with 6.5 rebounds per game and 1.2 blocks. Edwards lead Tech with 2.7 assists per game and has the most tournament experience on the team after playing as a freshman during the run to the national championship final. A junior from Arlington, Edwards scored 12 points with two 3-pointers in the title game against Virginia. Avery Benson, Edwards and Santos-Silva are the three players on the TTU roster with tournament experience. Benson was on the Elite 8 team and played in game against Buffalo and Michigan in the 2019 tournament.
All NCAA Tournament games will be played in Indiana this year with the First Four games to be played on March 18. The First Round is on March 19-20 followed by the Second Round on March 21-22. Advancing teams will compete in the Sweet 16 on March 27-28 followed by the Elite 8 on March 29-30. The Final Four is set for April 3 before the national championship final on April 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Tech is making its 18th NCAA Tournament in program history and is 16-19 all-time. The program has made the tournament in 1954, 1956, 1961, 1962, 1973, 1976, 1985, 1986, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2016, 2018 and 2019. In the past two tournaments no program has won more games with the Red Raiders securing wins in the 2018 NCAA Tournament over SFA, Florida and Purdue to advance to the program’s first Elite 8 before reaching the 2019 NCAA Championship Final with victories over Northern Kentucky, Buffalo, Michigan, Gonzaga and Michigan State in the Final Four.
• Texas Tech has an 8-2 record in the NCAA Tournament under head coach Chris Beard with trips to the 2018 Elite 8 and the 2019 National Championship Final… The 8-2 record over the past two NCAA Tournaments is the best in the nation after the run to the program’s first Final Four… TTU earned a win over Michigan State in the national semifinals before an overtime loss to Virginia. The run to the 2019 National Championship came with wins over Northern Kentucky, Buffalo, Michigan and Gonzaga before topping the Spartans in Minnesota to reach the final Monday night of the 2019 college basketball season.
• Texas Tech is making its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance and its third straight which is a program record… The team was projected to make the 2020 tournament before it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
• At No. 21 in the final week of the national polls, Texas Tech has been ranked throughout the 2020-21 season which is the first time in program history… The Red Raiders began the year at No. 14 in the AP Preseason Poll and were as high as No. 7 on Feb. 8.
• Avery Benson, Kyler Edwards and Marcus Santos-Silva are Red Raiders who have competed in the NCAA Tournament… Benson is the only current player who was on the 2018 Elite 8 and 2019 Final Four teams while Edwards played as a freshman during the 2019 tournament… Santos-Silva played in the 2019 tournament at VCU… McCullar was a redshirt on the 2019 team.
• Four Red Raiders were honored with All-Big 12 awards with Mac McClung being named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year to go along with All-Big 12 Second Team and Big 12 All-Newcomer Team recognition… Terrence Shannon, Jr. was named to the All-Big 12 Third team while Kyler Edwards and Kevin McCullar were All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selections.
• Tech and Utah State are meeting for the 5th time with the series tied 2-2… The Red Raiders won 75-51 on Nov. 23, 2016 at the Cancun Challenge in Beard’s first year… The programs played in Assembly Hall against each other with USU winning 78-68 in the Indiana Classic on Dec. 21, 1976.
• TTU is a six seed in the tournament for the fourth time, most recently in 2005 where the team opened with a win over UCLA in the West Region before falling to Gonzaga… The Red Raiders were a three seed in the past two tournaments.
• TTU is 7-10 all-time in the first round of the tournament coming into the matchup against Utah State.
• Tech is 6-10 this season against teams in the NCAA Tournament field… vs. Oklahoma 2-0; vs. Texas 2-1; vs. Abilene Christian 1-0; vs. LSU 1-0; vs. Baylor 0-2; vs. Oklahoma State 0-2; vs. Kansas; vs. West Virginia 0-2; vs. Houston 0-1.
• The Red Raiders are one of seven teams from the state of Texas in the NCAA tournament, joining Baylor and Texas from the Big 12 along with North Texas, Texas Southern, Houston and Abilene Christian. TTU played Houston and ACU during the regular season, dropping a neutral-court matchup against UH on Nov. 29 in Fort Worth before securing a 51-44 win over ACU on Dec. 9 in Lubbock. The Red Raiders were 2-1 against UT this season and 0-2 against Baylor.
STAT RANKINGS: Texas Tech comes into the NCAA Tournament fifth in the nation with a 5.1 turnover margin advantage and 25th with 16 turnovers forced per game this season. The Red Raiders forced 20 turnovers against the Longhorns in the conference tournament and have now forced 15 or more turnovers in 17 of 27 games this season. Tech leads the Big 12 and is 28th nationally by holding teams to 63.4 points per game after holding 12 opponents under 60 points. Offensively, the Red Raiders are averaging 73.0 points per game and are shooting 44.3 percent from the field. The team is 10th nationally with 432 free throws made (16.0 per game) with a season-best 25 in games against Sam Houston and Oklahoma State. Tech’s defense is limiting opponents to 41.0 percent shooting with 10 teams being held under 35 percent.
RED RAIDER REPORT: The Texas Tech roster consists of 12 players with one senior, four juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen. The program returned six players from last year’s roster in Kyler Edwards, Avery Benson, Kevin McCullar, Terrence Shannon, Jr., Clarence Nadolny and Tyreek Smith while adding graduate transfer Marcus Santos-Silva (VCU) and transfers Mac McClung (Georgetown) and Jamarius Burton (Wichita State). The team is strengthened by true freshmen Micah Peavy, Chibuzo Agbo and Vladislav Goldin.
Marcus Santos-Silva is the lone senior on the Texas Tech roster and comes into his second NCAA Tournament averaging 8.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and a team-leading 32 blocks (1.2 per). A Taunton, Mass. native, Santos-Silva is in his first season at Tech after transferring from VCU where he played three seasons. Santos-Silva played in the 2019 NCAA Tournament as a sophomore at VCU. He scored seven points and had five rebounds in an opening round loss to Central Florida. This season he has recorded two double-doubles in non-conference play and is coming off going for 10 points and nine rebounds in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinal loss to Texas. He is currently second in the Big 12 and 42nd nationally with 3.04 offensive rebounds per game. He scored a season-high 14 points in wins over Iowa State and Kansas State and recorded double-digit rebounding totals in four games with a season-high 13 in the opener against Northwestern State where he also had 10 points for his first double-double. He’s had two or more blocks in nine games, including a career-high four blocks in games against Abilene Christian and Oklahoma State. He had three blocks to go along with eight points in the regular-season finale at Baylor. Santos-Silva has recorded 1,058 points, 795 rebounds and 124 blocks through 124 games in his collegiate career.
Kyler Edwards earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection this season and comes into his second NCAA Tournament averaging 10.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and a team-leading 2.7 assists per game. An Arlington native, Edwards played in all six games during the run to the 2019 National Championship Final where he would cap his freshman season by going for 12 points with two 3-pointers against Virginia in the title game. Edwards scored a season-high 20 points in a home win over TCU to begin the month of March and would lead Tech with 18 points by hitting four 3-pointers in the regular-season finale at Baylor. He leads Tech with 51 3-pointers this season, including hitting two or more in 15 games and making four in three games. Edwards comes into the matchup against Utah State with 833 points, 333 rebounds and 209 assists through 96 games in his career. He averaged 5.8 points and 2.0 rebounds through the six games of the 2019 NCAA Tournament where he was 8-for-12 on 3-pointers.
Mac McClung was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and earned All-Big 12 Second Team and Big 12 All-Newcomer Team honors in his first season with the program after transferring from Georgetown. He added the all-district selections to his list of honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association on Tuesday. A junior from Gate City, Virginia who has started all 27 games, McClung leads the Red Raiders with 15.7 points per game this season where he averaged 17.0 in Big 12 play. A dynamic scorer, McClung had a season-high 30 points at West Virginia where he had four 3-pointers and comes into his first NCAA Tournament experience with 10 games this season with 20 or more points. His last 20-point performance came in the home finale against Iowa State before being limited to seven at Baylor and seven against Texas in the past two games. McClung is 102-for-127 from the free-throw line (80.3 percent) for the season and is second on the team with 43 3-pointers. He hit a season-high four 3-pointers in the team’s home game against Baylor where he scored 24 points by also going 8-for-10 at the line and matched a season-high six assists in the home win over TCU. McClung is averaging 2.2 assists per game to go along with his scoring after also having six assists in a non-conference win over Corpus Christi and having three or more assists in 11 games. He scored a career-high 38 points as a freshman at Georgetown against Little Rock and comes into the NCAA Tournament with 1,135 points through 77 collegiate games.
Kevin McCullar is coming off a career-high six steals against Texas and enters the NCAA Tournament averaging 10.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.9 steals per game in his redshirt sophomore season. A San Antonio native who earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, McCullar redshirted during the historic run to the 2019 NCAA Final Four and was with the team throughout the experience. He missed the first nine games this season due to a preseason injury but has played in the final 18 with 17 straight starts. McCullar added 11 points to his six steals in the loss to Texas in the last game played after going for 11 points at Baylor in the regular-season finale in Waco. He scored a career-high 16 points in a road win over Texas in his fifth game back this season and has recorded two double-doubles with 15 points and 11 rebounds at Iowa State and then 10 points and 10 rebounds at home against Baylor in mid-January. McCullar comes into his first NCAA Tournament with 357 points, 203 rebounds and 69 steals through 47 games in his career. He has recorded 10 games (18 played) with two or more steals, including four steals against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and at home against Texas before his six-steal performance.
Terrence Shannon, Jr. earned All-Big 12 Third Team honors and is a Julius Erving Award Finalist in his sophomore season. A Chicago, Illinois native, Shannon comes into his first NCAA Tournament experience averaging 12.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game after leading the Red Raiders with 18 points against Texas in the conference tournament where he was 4-for-7 on 3-pointers. He’s made seven 3-pointers in the last two games after also going 3-for-3 and scoring 11 points in the regular-season finale at Baylor. Shannon has scored in double figures in 20 or 26 games played this season with a high of 23 coming in a road win at LSU in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. He would add 10 rebounds in Baton Rouge to record his first career double-double in the game where he went 9-for-10 at the free-throw line. Shannon, who scored a career-high 24 points as a freshman in his hometown at DePaul, has made 27 3-pointers through 26 games played this season after making nine in 29 games during his freshman season. Shannon is second on the team with 30 steals this season, averaging 1.2 per game with a high of three coming in a home game against Kansas State where he added 22 points and six rebounds. He comes into the national tournament having scored 614 points, securing 227 rebound and with 56 steals through 55 games in his career.
Micah Peavy has started 25 of 27 games in his freshman season where he is averaging 5.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game after going for six points at Baylor and six against Texas in the conference tournament. A Cibolo, Texas native, Peavy scored a season-high 14 points in the season-opener against Northwestern State and then scored 12 against Corpus Christi and in the home finale against Iowa State. Against the Cyclones, Peavy was 6-for-8 from the field and also had three assists in the second game of March. He’s shooting 47.0 percent from the field this season and has had four or more rebounds in 12 games. Peavy was the Texas Class 6A Player of the Year and helped lead Duncanville High School to a state championship under his father David Peavy. In his first collegiate season he’s averaging 20.6 minutes per game and has supplied 39 assists after having four against the Longhorns in the conference tournament.
Avery Benson is in his fourth season with the program and is the only player on the roster who was part of the 2018 Elite 8 run. A junior from Arkansas, Benson has played in 70 games during his career and is currently 6-for-9 on 3-pointers this season. Benson scored a career-high 10 points last season in a win over No. 1-ranked Louisville in the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden where he also had two blocked shots. He scored a season-high six points with two 3-pointers in a non-conference win over Incarnate Word and also had one 3-pointer in the regular-season finale at Baylor. Tyreek Smith is a redshirt freshman who has played a reserve role in all 27 games this season where he is averaging 2.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. A Baton Rouge native who played high school basketball in Dallas, he scored a season-high nine points against TCU in the first game in March where he was 4-for-4 from the field and also had six rebounds. Smith is second on the team with 21 blocked shots, including a career-high three blocks in wins over Kansas State and Troy. Smith had four points and three rebounds in the conference tournament against Texas.
Jamarius Burton is averaging 4.7 points and 1.3 assists per game. He’s missed the past six games with a toe injury and is listed as day-to-day. A junior from Charlotte, North Carolina who transferred from Wichita State, Burton has scored 628 points and has 256 assists through 88 games of his collegiate career. He scored a season-high 10 points in the win over Grambling in non-conference play and had a Big 12-best of nine at West Virginia where he was 4-for-7 from the field with one 3-pointer. Burton had a season-high five assists in the win over Northwestern State and has an 11-assist performance against Oklahoma State on his resume from Wichita State. Burton has made four starts and appeared in 17 games as a reserve this season.
Clarence Nadolny scored a season-high seven points against Oklahoma where he was 2-for-2 from the field, including hitting one of his four 3-pointers for the season. A sophomore from France, he had a season-best three assists at West Virginia in the first matchup where he played 17 minutes before scoring his seven points in 15 minutes against OU. He had a previous season-high of six points in the win over Corpus Christi and has a career-high of nine points last season against Houston Baptist as a freshman. He is currently 11 points away from 100 in his career after scoring three against Texas at the conference tournament. Chibuzo Agbo and Vladislav Goldin are true freshman along with Peavy and have had some strong moments in their first season at Tech. A San Diego native, Agbo is averaging 1.9 points per game after scoring a Big 12-best four points in the wins over TCU and Texas. In the win over the Longhorns at home he made a layup and then two free throws in the final minute to help ice the game. He scored a season-high five points coming in the opener against Northwestern State. He had three points at West Virginia with a 3-pointer and also had two points at LSU. Agbo has hit six 3-pointers this season. Goldin is the tallest player on the roster at 7-foot-1 and is averaging 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds per game through nine games played. A forward from Russia, Goldin scored a career-high six points against Grambling in non-conference play and also added four rebounds in the win. Goldin played one minute against UT after he had not played since the win at Iowa State on Jan. 9 in Ames.
UTAH STATE: The Aggies come into their matchup against Texas Tech having won six of their last seven games after dropping the Mountain West tournament final to San Diego State. USU went 15-4 in conference play this season. Neemias Queta leads the team with 15.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game and also has 90 blocks, 71 assists and 30 steals. A 7-foot center from Portugal, Queta is coming off scoring 18 points and having six rebounds and three blocks against SDSU. He was named an honorable mention All-American by The Associated Press. Justin Bean is second on the team with 11.3 points per game, while Marco Anthony is averaging 10.0 points per game and has 84 assists. Rollie Worster leads USU with 91 assists to go along with scoring 9.2 points per game. The Aggies are led by head coach Craig Smith who is in his third season. Smith coached former TTU player Matt Mooney at South Dakota State before taking the job in Logan and Mooney transferring to Tech to help lead the program to the 2019 Final Four. Anthony is a junior from San Antonio who played against McCullar in high school.
BIG 12 NOTE: The Big 12 placed a nation-high 70 percent of its teams in the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. The Conference has seven selections for the sixth time in the last 11 tournaments, including five seasons in the past seven years the event was conducted. The Big 12’s average seed of 4.0 is the best in conference history. Six have led teams to the Final Four, tied for the best in the nation among conferences. Half of Big 12 institutions have made an appearance in the Final Four with Texas Tech playing in the most recent title game in 2019.
SECURING POSSESSION: Beard stresses a 10-or-less turnover game is one of the keys to victory in every game the Red Raiders play which the team has accomplished 13 times this season after having only nine in the win over TCU and seven at Baylor. The season has been highlighted by a two-turnover showing at West Virginia which matched the Big 12 single-game record. The Red Raiders are currently averaging only 11 turnovers per game which is the second in the Big 12. In Big 12 play, Tech also had only seven turnovers at Texas and Kansas, nine in the win over Kansas State and 10 at Iowa State. The team averaged only 10.5 turnovers per game in Big 12 play. Tech had only one turnover at halftime in Ames against ISU to get out to a 24-point lead in the first matchup. In non-conference play, Tech had only four turnovers against Corpus Christi which was the low in the Beard era before the two in Morgantown. During his five seasons, Tech has committed 10 or less turnovers 64 times under Beard. The program’s low turnover output was highlighted at the 2019 Final Four with only seven in a win over Michigan State and eight in the overtime loss to Virginia in the National Championship game. Tech currently has a 5.1 turnover margin advantage. The Red Raiders have drastically improved in the turnover category after committing 13.7 last season.
FORCING THE ISSUE: Texas Tech forced 30 turnovers against Grambling for the most since the 2009 season opener against South Dakota. Tech is coming off forcing 20 turnovers against Texas in the Big 12 Championship which was the sixth time it has forced 20 or more this season. The Red Raiders forced 16 against Baylor after 15 turnovers at Texas and Iowa State. Tech has recorded 13 steals in two games this season, against Grambling and Northwestern State before having eight at KSU. The 13 steals against Grambling and Northwestern State is the most steals in a game since a 15-steal game by the team against Rice on Dec. 16, 2017. Tech had nine steals against the Cyclones with Edwards having three and McClung coming away with two. McCullar, who has 28 steals for the season, has 13 steals in the past five games after his career-high six steals against the Longhorns.
GAME-BY-GAME TURNOVERS (TTU-OPPONENT): TTU 10-NSU 19; TTU 12-SAM 18; TTU 18-HOU 14; TTU 13-TROY 22; TTU 13-GRAM 30; TTU 16-ACU 22; TTU 4-TAMUCC 20; TTU 7-KU 16; TTU 13-OU 16; TTU 7-UIW 20; TTU 14-OSU 13; TTU 9-KSU 14; TTU 10-ISU 15; TTU 7-UT 15; TTU 20-BU 16; TTU 2-WVU 12; TTU 13-LSU 12; TTU 10-OU 11; TTU 10-KSU 18; TTU 13-WVU 15; TTU 10-KU 6; TTU 12-OSU 17; TTU 11-UT 12; TTU 9-TCU 15; TTU 14-ISU 13; TTU 7-BU 12; TTU 13-UT 20.
OUR LEADER: Beard is in his fifth season as the Texas Tech head coach where he has led the program to a 111-54 record, including an 8-2 mark in the NCAA Tournament. Beard was named the 2019 Associated Press National Coach of the Year and earned Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019. An assistant coach at Texas Tech under Bob and Pat Knight, Beard has amassed an impressive 141-59 record as a Division I head coach that started with one season at Little Rock where he was 30-5. He also has head coaching stops at Fort Scott Community College, Seminole State, McMurry and Angelo State in his collegiate career. Beard is the 17th head coach in Texas Tech history and reached 100 wins on Dec. 12, 2020 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. He is the fastest Tech coach to reach that milestone following James Dickey (148 games), Bob Knight (150), Gerald Myers (152) and Polk Robison (170).
RED RAIDERS TURN PRO: Four players would still have the opportunity to be playing for the Red Raiders this season if their talent hadn’t caught the eye of the professional ranks. Zhaire Smith, Jarrett Culver and Davide Moretti would be seniors on this year’s team while Jahmi’us Ramsey would be a sophomore. Smith was selected in the 2018 NBA Draft with the 16th pick of the first round, Culver turned pro after his sophomore season and was selected No. 6 overall by Minnesota and Moretti left to play professional back in his home country of Italy after his junior season. Ramsey left after his freshman season and was selected by the Sacramento Kings.
THE STAFF: Beard is assisted this season by associate head coach Mark Adams, assistant coaches Ulric Maligi and Bob Donewald, Casey Perrin (Chief of Staff), Sean Sutton (Advisor/Player Development), John Reilly (Strength & Conditioning) and associate athletic trainer Mike Neal. Adams is entering his fifth season on Beard’s staff and also assisted him at Little Rock. A 1979 graduate of Texas Tech, Adams is a former head coach at Clarendon College, Wayland Baptist, West Texas A&M, Texas-Pan American and Howard College. He earned 2019 TABC Assistant Coach of the Year and is a member of multiple hall of fames, most recently being inducted into the NJCAA’s Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Class for 2020. Donewald is in his second season on the staff, but his first as an assistant. He has extensive experience in professional basketball and worked last season as the program’s director of player development. Maligi is also in his second season on the staff and is widely respected as one of the top emerging assistants in the nation. He led the charge in the recruitment of this year’s signing class which was the highest ranked in program history. Reilly, a Killeen, Texas native who competed on the BYU Track & Field team, is also in his fifth season having led the strength and conditioning each year for Beard. Neal is in his second season, coming over from Little Rock where he played basketball and was the team’s athletic trainer during Beard’s year leading the program.
UNCOMFORTABLE – BEARD EXPLAINS: “Being comfortable gets you beat every single time. You see it all the time in sports. You win a big game and the next time there’s a letdown and a loss. We’ve all seen that. Life is the same way. You can have a great day at work and you could take the edge off. It takes a special person, we use the word ‘elite’, to remain uncomfortable. Coach Knight would talk a lot about when things were going good that we need to shake the tree from time to time. Everybody expects the best and have focus during times of adversity, but only the elite people can push themselves each day to stay uncomfortable. I think being uncomfortable is where growth comes from. Uncomfortable is what you have to be to compete in the Big 12. Our guys have embraced this. Each season we try to have a theme and with this year’s group, we just feel that if we can stay uncomfortable we’ll be where we need to be. We like our talent. We like our culture. If this team can keep pushing and not get too high or too low by staying uncomfortable right there in the middle, we think we have a great chance to grow.”
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