Texas Tech star Zhaire Smith's dunk off a ideal alley-oop pass from Keenan Evans was the final blow in a slugfest Saturday night as the Florida Gators failed to land their last two shots and the Red Raiders eliminated UF 69-66 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
March makes stars, and senior Keenan Evans has led the Red Raiders to this point, and got them into the second weekend.
The Gators finished 21-12 in the regular season and 3rd in the SEC.
Texas Tech trailed by as many as 8 points early in the second half Thursday against Stephen F. Austin before rallying for a 70-60 win.
Florida was a team many thought would lose in the opening round, but the Gators drilled St. Bonaventure as they connected for 10 triples in the win. Culver capped the burst with a 3-pointer with 5:01 left to give the Red Raiders a 29-26 edge. The Texas Tech Red Raiders have won five of their last seven neutral site games. He hesitated and then missed the shot short, but Keith Stone ran down the offensive rebound for Florida and he shoveled the ball to KeVaughn Allen who also missed it short. Both guards have led the Red Raiders all season long and will continue to lead them as they continue on in the tournament.
Hayes sat the final six minutes of the first half after picking up his second foul during a scramble for a loose ball. Egor Koulechov, the transfer from Rice who was an important part of this season's team, suffered through a two-of-eight shooting night from three-point range. Defensively, Texas Tech yields 65.7 points per game against the opposing teams. Eventually, the Raiders extended their lead to 58-50 before UF battled back.
The Bears answered in the bottom half of the first inning when sophomore catcher/first baseman Shea Langeliers hit a two-run home run to tie the game. But the Gators fought right back with a mini run of their own to retake the lead at 43-40. Zhaire Smith added 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Then, with Florida down 32-31 on its final possession of the half, Chiozza missed a jumper, but Koulechov was able to bank in an offensive rebound putback before the first-half buzzer to put Florida up 33-32 at halftime.