KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Red Raiders just couldn’t hold on.
Texas Tech led by as many as nine midway through the second half, but Texas didn’t quit.
The Longhorns surged down the stretch to top Texas Tech 61-52 Wednesday night inside the Sprint Center.
Andrew Jones led all scorers with 15 points as Texas finished shooting 40 percent from the floor.
Texas Tech, meanwhile, was held to 35.6 percent.
Keenan Evans led the Red Raiders with 11 points, followed by Matt Temple and Anthony Livingston each with 10.
This marks the fourth-straight year that the Red Raiders have lost their first game of the Big 12 Championship.
Texas Tech and Texas use their bigs differently.
For the Longhorns, Jarrett Allen and Shaquille Cleare get position inside and do work with their backs to the basket.
Allen, a high flying dunker, also has some range.
But the Texas offense works best when one of these two touches the ball inside.
Not only can they both get shots, but the defense collapsing on them opens up looks for their teammates.
Texas Tech, on the other hand, uses its bigs mostly outside the paint.
Entering Wednesday night’s contest, Tech’s bigs were a combined 40.5 percent from deep.
Against Texas, the Red Raiders used their horns sets to set their bigs up outside the 3-point line.
That pulled the Texas bigs outside of the paint which opened up driving lanes for the Red Raiders.
It worked on Tech’s first offensive play of the game when Keenan Evans drove the ball in for a layup with Allen and Cleare pulled out to defend Zach Smith and Matt Temple.
Defensively, Texas Tech mostly fronted the Longhorn bigs to keep them from getting any touches.
In the first half alone, neither Cleare nor Allen had any shot attempts inside the paint.
Cleare simply didn’t shoot at all in the opening period.
Texas finished the first half with only seven field goals and 10 points in the paint.
In the second half, Allen and Cleare got most of the touches early and were able to work their way inside, but Texas Tech kept rolling.
Texas cut Tech’s lead to two off a triple by Kendal Yancy less than three minutes into the final period, but the Red Raiders answered with a 7-0 run to pull away.
Five of those points came from Anthony Livingston as the senior found his rhythm in the second half.
But the Longhorns didn’t fold.
Instead, Texas fought to tie the game with 5:31 to play due to a lack of rhythm offensively for the Red Raiders.
From the 10:35 mark to four minutes left in the game, Texas went on a 17-2 run as Texas Tech had only one bucket.