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Keenan Evans, Texas Tech to Sweet 16 with win over Florida

UPDATED: Sat., March 17, 2018, 11:46 p.m.

Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans (12) celebrates sinking a basket against Florida during the first half of a second-round game in the men’s NCAA college basketball tournament in Dallas, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)
Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans (12) celebrates sinking a basket against Florida during the first half of a second-round game in the men’s NCAA college basketball tournament in Dallas, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)
By Stephen Hawkins Associated Press

DALLAS – Keenan Evans keeps making big plays, extending Texas Tech’s season – and his time with second-year head coach Chris Beard.

They have another game with the Red Raiders headed to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.

Evans, who treats every game like senior night and doesn’t want to be done, scored 22 points and hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes left as third-seeded Texas Tech beat Florida 69-66 on Saturday night.

While the next loss will end All-Big 12 guard Evans’ career, high-flying freshman Zhaire Smith is just getting started.

Smith had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and was on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass from Evans for a punctuating dunk with 29 seconds left to send the Red Raiders (26-10) to Boston for a matchup against Purdue or Butler.

Chris Chiozza did go the length of the court for a Florida layup with 25 seconds left before Evans lost the ball when trying to fight through a double-team after the inbound pass.

The Gators gathered the ball after a wild scramble. Egor Koulechov and KeVaughn Allen both had 3-point attempts in the final 10 seconds that came up short.

Florida (21-13) fell short of the Sweet 16 – and the Elite Eight – for the first time in its past six NCAA Tournament appearances. The last time the Gators didn’t even make it to the Sweet 16 was in 2010, when the SEC team lost a first-round game to BYU.

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