The clutch gene just isn't embedded in all of us.
Sorry to get your hopes up.
Evans was not good in the first half of the 3rd-seed's opening-round game against a tough, and rugged 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin team on Thursday at the American Airlines Center. It would be partial blasphemy to call his first 20 minutes bad, but it was close.
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It didn't phase him one bit, though, as he went from 4 points (0-for-4) in the first half to a game-high 23 points in Tech's 70-60 victory in the East Region. The Red Raiders will play either sixth-seed Florida or 11-seed St. Bonaventure on Saturday with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.
But about that clutch gene. Every shot that Evans hit in the second half just seemed so darn important. Every. Single. One.
Tech needed him too. After SFA's Kevon Harris nailed a three-pointer at the first half buzzer to give the Lumberjacks a 30-27 lead, they came out in the second half with three quick treys to go up 30-27.
Evans finally got one to fall - from deep - with just under 16 minutes left to move TTU to within three at 39-36. It was his first make in five shot attempts.
Then, just when it looked like SFA was distancing itself just enough midway through the second half, Evans went to work. He had two free throws, a steal, an assist, and a jumper — all in the span of 90 seconds — to cut Tech's deficit from seven to 51-50.
Several minutes later, after some intense back-and-forth, Evans tied the game at 57-57 with 4:30 left. He then gave Tech the lead with 3:50 left on another layup off an SFA steal. Zhaire Smith followed Evans' bucket with a dunk to put TTU up 61-58, its largest lead since a 13-7 advantage with 11:25 left in the first.
Brandon Francis added to it with a trey out of a timeout and, after a pair of SFA FTs, Evans was back to his old tricks, slashing through the Lumberjacks defense for a razzle-dazzle layup.
Tech ended the game on a 13-3 run. Evans, who was 10-for-10 at the line, had eight of those points.