BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MARCH 19: Mac McClung #0 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders drives to the basket during the first half against the Utah State Aggies in the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Assembly Hall on March 19, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Texas Tech basketball team defeated Utah State 65-53 on Friday so let’s go inside the box score to see how the Red Raiders picked up the win.

After beating Utah State on Friday in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the Texas Tech Red Raiders got an unexpected shout-out.  Tweeting that he has been a fan of Mac McClung since his high school days, comedic actor Rainn Wilson congratulated the Texas Tech basketball program on their win.

Of course, Wilson is best known for playing Dwight K. Schrute for nine seasons on NBC’s “The Office”.  And on Friday, the Red Raiders did some serious work in the second half to put away the Utah State Aggies.

In fact, it could be argued that the final 20 minutes of the win was the best Chris Beard’s team has played for an entire half this season.  And after the game, the Red Raider head coach talked about a key 16-2 run that put his team ahead for good.

I thought specific to our successful run at the start of the second half, our defense remained consistent,” Beard said.  “The first half we guarded — really what helped us on that run is our offense opened up. We got a little bit more aggressive on our break, a little bit more aggressive with our shot selection, and just told the guys to play fearless, to play with courage, to let it rip. That’s our deal this NCAA Tournament. We try to give our guys a theme each year when we’re here. Let it rip. We’ve earned the right to be here.”

It was the third-straight NCAA Tournament in which Tech has opened with a double-digit victory.  And overall, Tech is now 17-19 in the Big Dance as a program after being 8-17 prior to the Beard era.

So let’s go inside the box score of this win to see how the Red Raiders took down Utah State.  And we will start with Chris Beard’s most valued statistic.

Texas Tech forced 22 turnovers

This game boiled down to the fact that Texas Tech was able to exploit Utah State’s guards to the tune of 22 turnovers.  That led to 28 Red Raider points off of turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Red Raiders turned the ball over just eight times.  That led to only nine Aggie points.

USU point guard Marco Anthony was his team’s biggest offender.  In a small way, that has to be satisfying to Red Raider fans given that Anthony was a reserve on the Virginia team that stole the 2019 National Title from the Red Raiders (though he didn’t play in that game).

In all, the three starting Utah State guards each had at least three turnovers.  What’s more between them, those three players gave the ball away 12 times.  On the other hand, the Red Raiders’ three starting guards combined to give the ball away only six times.

In March, and especially in a game that is played at the pace that Friday’s game was, Tech wants to make each possession carry as much weight as possible for the opponent.  That’s what the Red Raiders did on Friday and the fact that USU gave 22 of their possessions away was the game’s No. 1 factor.