No shot at the end: Hogs can’t execute in final seconds at Texas Tech

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2019
Texas Tech's Davide Moretti tries to steal the ball away from Arkansas' Jalen Harris, back to camera, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)
Texas Tech's Davide Moretti tries to steal the ball away from Arkansas' Jalen Harris, back to camera, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

LUBBOCK, Texas -- The University of Arkansas basketball team had a shot to beat No. 14 Texas Tech on Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

But when the Razorbacks needed a shot, they couldn't get it off.

The Red Raiders held on to win 67-64 with a defensive stop in the final seconds before an announced crowd of 14,290 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Texas Tech was clinging to a 65-62 lead and Arkansas had the ball coming out of timeout with 25.7 seconds left -- and 25 on the shot clock -- after Red Raiders sophomore guard Jarrett Culver hit 1 of 2 throws.

"We didn't execute, that's all," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "We were trying to get a quick score and then we didn't even get off a shot.

"So that's disappointing."

Arkansas freshman guards Isaiah Joe and Keyshawn Embery-Simpson were closely guard as they handled the ball on the perimeter as the clock continued to run down.

Culver knocked the ball away from Embery-Simpson and Arkansas was called for kicking the ball in the scramble to grab it, giving Texas Tech possession with 6.3 seconds left.

Texas Tech sophomore guard Davide Moretti was fouled by Jalen Harris with five seconds left and hit two free throws to put the Red Raiders ahead 67-62.

Harris made a layup with one second left for the final margin.

"There are some things we work on, but when game time comes, you've got to be able to execute, and the players have got to be able to make plays," Anderson said of the possession when the Razorbacks trailed 65-62. "We didn't make that particular play."

Anderson was asked about two freshman guards handling the ball in that situation.

"They've got to learn," Anderson said. "They're the players we have right now, so they have to learn.

"We just didn't execute, but it shouldn't have enough come down to that."

After Embery-Simpson hit 1 of 2 free throws to pull Arkansas within 64-62 with 1:01 left, the shot clock was running down when Culver was forced to fire up a jumper.

Arkansas sophomore guard Mason Jones was called for a foul and Culver gave Texas Tech a three-point lead with 31.7 seconds left.

"Culver had to take a tough shot, and we bailed him out," Anderson said.

Joe -- who came into the game leading the SEC with 68 three-point baskets but was 0 of 5 on Saturday -- was guarded closely by Matt Mooney on the decisive possession.

"I knew [Joe] was going to try and get a three off, so I just did everything I could not to let him and Culver made a real big play," said Mooney, a senior guard. "He's got a knack for making big plays. So it was a good team defensive possession."

Texas Tech came into the game as the NCAA leader in field goal defense at 35.3 percent, but Coach Chris Beard said he wasn't feeling confident about stopping Arkansas at the end.

"I didn't feel very good," Beard said. "I was scared to death over there, because I've got so much respect for the opponent.

"You've got a three-point lead and it's all about time and score. There was around 20-something seconds left in the game, so probably too early to foul -- even though they do have some not-great free throw shooters.

"Give the players all the credit. I thought Matt made a great play, and then Culver made the play that Matt gave him an opportunity to make. So it was team defense at its best."

Texas Tech looked to be pulling away when it took a 60-48 lead with 7:41 left on Norense Odaise's dunk, but that turned out to be the Red Raiders' final field goal of the game.

Arkansas used a 14-4 run -- including four points from Jones and three from Daniel Gafford -- to make it a two-point game.

Texas Tech held on by hitting 5 of 6 free throws in the final 3:49.

"It's a disappointing feeling, but we took it from ourselves," said Gafford, a 6-11 sophomore forward who led the Razorbacks with 14 points. "We came down and we had a stretch where we kept them from making field goals, but we fouled them.

"Then we came down and got fouled and didn't make free throws."

Arkansas hit 18 of 26 three throws, but 10 of 17 in the second half, including 6 of 11 in the final 14:47.

"Our kryptonite right now is free throws," Gafford said. "If we make our free throws, we can beat teams.

"We put a lot of time on free throws in practice, but then in games they don't fall for us. It's a work in progress."

Texas Tech had 21 turnovers, but shot 51.2 percent from the field (22 of 43) and hit 10 of 19 three-pointers.

Arkansas had a 27-25 rebounding edge and outscored the Red Raiders 11-2 on second-chance points.

"There's different ways to win games and there's ways to lose games," Beard said. "Every team kind of has a pattern.

"We want to outrebound the opponent and have low turnovers. Tonight I would tell you we won the game with our offense when we got a shot and made timely free throws late."

The Red Raiders were 16 of 67 on three-pointers in their previous three games in losing to Iowa State at home and at Baylor and Kansas State.

"It was that one three they made that was the difference in this game," Anderson said. "But lo and behold, today was their day to do it."

Moretti led the Red Raiders with 21 points. Culver had 15 points, 4 assists and 3 steals and Mooney had 12 points.

Harris and Jones each scored 11 points for Arkansas.

"We have a lot of respect for Arkansas' program," Beard said. "I'm happy for our players because I think we beat a really good team.

"A team that's still in the fight for the NCAA Tournament for sure. We didn't play our best, but I think you have to give Arkansas a lot of credit."

Arkansas took a 34-30 halftime time on Harris' three-point basket at the buzzer after Texas Tech had jumped ahead 17-9.

"Texas Tech had lost three games in a row, so you knew they were going to come out with a sense of urgency," Anderson said. "I knew there was going to be a lot of emotion.

"I thought they were going to try to come out and deliver the first punch, and that they did. But we were able to punch back. It went back and forth.

"I knew Coach Beard was going to have them ready to play. We just came up a little short."

Sports on 01/27/2019

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