No matter the result, Mark Adams would have a good gauge of his team after Wednesday night.
The first-year Texas Tech coach was cautiously optimistic as his undefeated squad headed into a nonconference contest against Providence as part of the Big 12-Big East Battle.
In what was the second game with a full complement of players available, the Red Raiders needed every person in uniform as foul trouble proved to be a crucial factor in a back-and-forth contest against the Friars.
Terrence Shannon, Jr. finished with 17 points, including a clutch three-pointer with under a minute left to cut the deficit to one point, but it wasn't enough as Texas Tech fell to Providence 72-68 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
"If we could just make that a 10-minute game we would have been in good shape," Adams said following the loss. "We had the momentum our guys were responding early. I thought we were the most aggressive team.
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"I think one of the keys, a couple of them, was we got in foul trouble. So we lost some of our intensity there. And then coach (Ed) Cooley did a good job of switching defense, went to that zone and took all the momentum away from us."
Kevin Obanor ended his night with 12 points, while Kevin McCullar, who fouled out, finished with 10 points to round out double-digit scorers for Tech.
Aljami Durham netted 23 points, A.J. Reeves tallied 13 and Ed Croswell scored 11 points to lead the Friars who had to climb out of a double-digit hole in the first half to even make things interesting late.
Despite holding a one-possession lead at 15-13, the Red Raiders turned the game in their favor thanks to a pair of three-pointers made by Adonis Arms and Davion Warren. The transfer guards were the catalyst to a 12-0 run that provided a 27-13 advantage — the largest at the time for Texas Tech.
With the game in hand, the Red Raiders went cold on the offensive end — unable to find the open man in the corner, or combat zone and full-press defense — while Shannon (three fouls), Bryson Williams (three fouls) McCullar (two fouls), Warren (two fouls) and Marcus Santos-Silva (two fouls) could not play smart and were on the bench in crunch time.
The result saw the Friars claw their way back into the contest.
It all started with effort as Ed Croswell nabbed an offensive rebound, recorded a putback and drew a foul before missing the And-1 opportunity. Justin Minaya continued the offensive surge by draining the first three-point shot of the game for the Friars to close the game to 27-18.
Providence took advantage at the free-throw line by going 7-for-9 while A.J Reeves netted a triple to get the Friars within two points (30-28) at the midway point.
In total, Providence ended the half on a 15-3 run to close the gap to one possession as both teams went into their respective locker rooms.
"I thought that was one of the biggest issues with us was not handling that zone early," Adams said. "And they just killed us on the boards. I think in the first half they scored 11 points off offensive rebounds. ... You look at our defense, it was really good in the first half. We just couldn't score."
The Friars continued to play at their own pace and secured the lead, building it up to seven points (44-37) in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Trailing 51-48, Adams saw the answer he was looking for as the Red Raiders offense and defense began to take form.
Obanor drained a 3-pointer to knot things at 51-all before Mylik Wilson stole the ball and ended the possession with a slam dunk to help Texas Tech regain the lead at 53-51 with 7:40 left to play.
It was back-and-forth until the end.
The Red Raiders had a chance to knot the game at 70-all under 20 seconds, but Wilson was called for an offensive foul as he extended his arm before taking a shot toward the middle of the paint with five seconds to play.
Alyn Breed drained a pair of free throws at the other end to make it a two-possession game and salt away the victory.
Texas Tech (6-1) is scheduled to take on No. 13 Tennessee at 6 p.m. Dec. 7 as part of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York. The game is set to be broadcast on ESPN.
Providence (7-1) is slated to host the University of Rhode Island in a 2 p.m. Saturday contest broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Men's college basketball: Red Raiders endure tough road loss in RI