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Texas Tech completes season sweep of TCU, snaps nine-game losing streak

Posted: March 2, 2013 - 5:50pm  |  Updated: March 3, 2013 - 2:03am
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Texas Tech's Jordan Tolbert brings the ball to the rim as Texas Christian's Devonta Abron tries to block during their game at the United Spirit Arena on Saturday.  (Scott MacWatters for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)  Scott MacWatters
Scott MacWatters
Texas Tech's Jordan Tolbert brings the ball to the rim as Texas Christian's Devonta Abron tries to block during their game at the United Spirit Arena on Saturday. (Scott MacWatters for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
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Texas Tech had no interest in seeing its losing streak reach double digits.

So the Red Raiders avoided a 10-game skid through sheer force of will.

Jordan Tolbert and Dejan Kravic combined to record 38 points and 17 rebounds, and Tech completed a season sweep of TCU with a 72-63 win Saturday inside United Spirit Arena.

"Once you get a couple baskets in, you just build confidence and keep going," Kravic said.

Tolbert and Kravic set the tone by collectively scoring 11 of Tech's first 13 points, and they never really slowed down from there. Tolbert finished with a season-high 22 points and six rebounds and Kravic, who has struggled through much of conference play, added 16 points and 11 boards for his first career double-double.

The win snapped a nine-game losing streak for Tech (10-17, 3-13 in Big 12), the fourth-longest stretch in school history.

The sweep of TCU was Tech's first of a Big 12 opponent since 2010, when it won both games against Oklahoma.

"I felt like this the first time we played Tech (on Jan. 5)," TCU coach Trent Johnson said. "I feel like they're extremely skilled, extremely talented. ... Tolbert, (Jaye) Crockett and Kravic, they can score. We knew going in they were going to attack us in the post."

If Tech wasn't finding its forwards in the half court, they were lobbing to them in transition. Tolbert was in the finishing end of four alley-oops, and Kravic also had a dunk off a lob pass.

"None of that would have been possible without my teammates," Tolbert, who made 9 of 10 shots, said of the high-flying finishes. "They made great passes and I was able to score without the ball."

The most impressive of the lob plays came with 3:38 in the first half, when Kravic received a pass at the top of the key and found Tolbert, who slipped behind the defense, caught the high floating pass with one hand and threw it down.

"We just thought we could get that play down," Kravic said. "We saw how they defended it on film. We thought JT would be open on that play, and it worked the first time, then worked a couple more times."

Of course, even with the strong play from the two post men, the victory didn't come easy for the Red Raiders. After Tolbert completed a 3-point play that gave Tech a 52-38 lead with 12 minutes left, TCU peeled off a 16-5 run to close to within three points, 57-54.

"We were going with the flow of the offense," said TCU guard Kyan Anderson, who led the Horned Frogs with 18 points. "We stayed with what we do well, and I felt like that's what helped us had that run."

But Ty Nurse hit his second big 3-pointer of the game -- his first came just before the halftime buzzer -- and TCU never closed to within a single possession again.

Tech finished the game shooting a season-best 62.2 percent (28 of 45), its best mark since converting 62.9 percent of its shots in a win against Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 20, 2011.

"I just thought our guys made plays when they had to make plays today," Tech coach Chris Walker said. "The most important thing we did today was play with poise."

Josh Gray, who finished with 11 points and six assists, put the exclamation point on the win with a steal and dunk in the game's final seconds.

Gray's efficiency has increased as the season has waged on. Through the first 18 games of the season, he had 47 assists to 58 turnovers. In the last nine games, he has 43 assists and 29 turnovers, and the Tech offense has seen its scoring increase as a result.

"I thought Josh Gray did a great job of distributing the ball," Walker said. "He almost has a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (during the nine-game stretch)."

Devonta Abron added 16 points for TCU (10-19, 1-15), which has not won a Big 12 road game during its first season in the league.

After three straight games of getting manhandled on the glass, Tech battled TCU to a 28-28 on the boards, and the Red Raiders corralled a some key rebounds in the final minutes after the Horned Frogs made their run.

Kravic said Tech's post players were focused on being more assertive after a second-half letdown against Kansas State on Monday that saw the Wildcats turn a two-point deficit in the second half into a 20-point win by dominating inside.

The Red Raiders were the ones imposing their will Saturday.

"They were more aggressive and more physical than we were," Johnson said.

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BIG 12 CONFERENCE — MEN

Conference All Games

W L Pct. W L Pct.

Kansas 13 3 .813 25 4 .864

Kansas State 13 3 .813 24 5 .828

Oklahoma State 12 4 .750 22 6 .786

Oklahoma 10 6 .625 19 9 .679

Iowa State 9 7 .563 19 10 .655

Baylor 8 8 .500 17 12 .586

West Virginia 6 10 .375 13 16 .448

Texas 5 11 .313 13 16 .448

Texas Tech 3 13 .188 10 17 .370

TCU 1 15 .063 10 19 .345

Saturday’s Results

Oklahoma 86, Iowa State 69

Kansas 91, West Virginia 65

Texas Tech 72, TCU 63

Oklahoma State 78, Texas 65

Kansas State 64, Baylor 61

Monday’s Games

Texas Tech at Kansas, 6 p.m.

Baylor at Texas, 8 p.m.

Tuesday’s Game

TCU at Kansas State, 7 p.m.

Wednesday’s Games

Oklahoma State at Iowa State, 6 p.m.

West Virginia at Oklahoma, 8 p.m.

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Basketball is designed to be played

inside-outside. Hopefully our front-court gains some confidence and aggression from a good outing. A highlight reel of alley-oops and dunks is always helpful in recruiting more post players. I'm not in the locker room, but I can still feel the sense of relief and happiness. And now we have a new president, so Kirby can get his rubber stamp for Coach Walker's 5 yr deal. Better days are ahead !

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