No.1 Undone! Texas Tech basketball topples top-ranked Louisville

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10: Chris Clarke #44 and Avery Benson #24 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders react during the second half of their game against the Louisville Cardinals at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10: Chris Clarke #44 and Avery Benson #24 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders react during the second half of their game against the Louisville Cardinals at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

Tuesday in New York, the Texas Tech basketball team took down No. 1 Louisville 70-57 to earn the program’s first-ever win over the nation’s top-ranked team.

Toughness, grit, determination.  Those three words describe sophomore Avery Benson who set the tone as the Texas Tech basketball team upset No. 1 Louisville 70-57 Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

The walk-on from Arkansas had a career night with 10 points, four rebounds, two blocks, and a steal in 22 minutes of action while frequently guarding ACC Preseason Player of the Year Jordan Nwora.  The Louisville star came into the game averaging 21.6 points per game but was frustrated all night as he managed just 14 points on 4-16 shooting which included just 1-7 from 3-point range for the 46% shooter from deep.

Tougher, more physical, and taking the fight right to the favored Cardinals, Tech held Louisville to 34% shooting from the field and just 3-17 (17.6%) from behind the 3-point line.  What’s more, Tech forced 19 turnovers, with many of them coming as the Red Raider guards swarmed the Cardinal big men in the post to offset Louisville’s size advantage, which the Cardinals could not exploit even when Red Raider forward T.J. Holyfield went to the bench with four fouls and just over 10 minutes to play in the game.

Going to a 5-guard lineup without Holyfield, Beard saw his team lose only two points off of its 8-point lead during the six minutes his starting forward was on the bench.  Leading 48-38 when Holyfield exited, the Red Raiders still held a 54-46 edge when he returned.

When he did come back into the game, the grad transfer made his presence known in a key run that saw him convert an important layup to put his team up 56-48 and then come up with a steal on the ensuing Louisville possession as Tech kept the previously 9-0 Cardinals at bay.

Davide Moretti led the Red Raiders with 18 points despite a poor shooting night.  Hitting just 4-15 shots and only 2-10 from deep, Moretti did most of his damage at the free-throw line where he was 8-8.  It had to feel good for the junior who missed a key last-minute free throw in Tech’s OT loss at DePaul in his last game out.  That miss could have put Tech up four points in the closing seconds but instead, it allowed the Blue Demons to send the game to OT with a late 3.

Six of Moretti’s free throws came in the final minute to ice the game as the thousands of Red Raider fans that made the trip began to chant “Raider Power” in celebration of the program’s first win over a No. 1 team in seven all-time attempts.

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I was a gutty effort by the Red Raiders who were without leading scorer Jahmi’us Ramsey for the third straight game.  The true freshman was a game-time decision on Tuesday but did not play as he continues to recover from a hamstring contusion sustained on Thanksgiving night against Iowa.

Without Ramsey, Tech had struggled to make key plays in the clutch in back-to-back-to-back losses to Iowa, Creighton, and DePaul, all games that were up for grabs in the final minutes but ultimately went against the Red Raiders.  Fortunately, the young team finally figured out a way to come up with the winning plays in a big game and it was Benson who led the way.

One of only three returning players on the roster, the southpaw entered the season best known for last year’s last-second dunk against Baylor that drew Beards’ ire.  But now, he will be remembered for his heroics against the nation’s top team.

With 6:59 to go and the Red Raiders holding just a 51-46 lead, Benson hit a short jumper in the lane off a nice pass from Chris Clarke while also drawing a foul.  Converting the 3-point play, he put his team up by eight points and helped the Red Raiders keep the momentum.

Clarke was also a huge factor in all facets of the game.  Pulling down a team-high 12 rebounds, dishing out a team-high six assists, scoring seven points and coming up with a steal, he was the unsung hero of the upset, especially defensively where he spent a considerable amount of time guarding the Louisville big men.

Winning for the first time since beating Long Island in Lubbock on November 24th, the Red Raiders moved to 6-3 on the year.  They now return home to prepare for Southern Miss, which comes to the U.S.A. on Monday night.

The Texas Tech basketball all-decade point guards. dark. Next

With a win over the No. 1 team in the country now in their back pocket, Beard’s team now faces a new challenge, not “losing their chip” as the head coach likes to say.  Playing with the type of chip on its shoulder that they did Tuesday night in The Garden, Tech proved that it can beat any team in the nation, even short-handed, as once again the nation learned to never count out Chris Beard and the Red Raiders.