Coach Chris Beard discovered that the NCAA’s high definition press conference cameras may not be as flattering to facial hair as his hometown ones.

Guard Mac McClung got called away from another postgame TV interview, just not before weighing in on his first NCAA appearance.

And sixth-seeded Texas Tech did exactly what has become expected this time of year, solving Utah State and its talented 7-footer Neemias Queta in the second half en route to a 65-53 opening NCAA Tournament win.

Up next is a second-round meeting in the South Region on Sunday against third-seeded Arkansas, which put away Colgate, 85-68. Expect a little reminiscing about the Southwest Conference and Tech’s Gerald Myers facing off against the Razorbacks’ Eddie Sutton.

Tech’s win wasn’t pretty or aesthetically pleasing, not that it matters. The Red Raiders improved to an impressive 9-2 in March Madness under Beard, although there were some shaky moments early.

The Red Raiders finally made some shots after shooting 28.1% in the first half and trailing 26-23 at halftime. Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 10 of his points and added two assists during a decisive 24-4 run that eliminated any chance of an early Tech exit.

”Our defense remained consistent,” Beard said. “The first half, we guarded. But what really helped us on that run is our offense opened up.”

Tech shot 56.7% in the second half. The Raiders also forced Utah State (20-9) into a season-high 22 turnovers.

"They earned it,” Utah State coach Craig Smith said. “You know, they really swarmed us. They’re an elite defensive team and we knew that coming in. The turnover battle was going to be a big thing.”

Beard was convinced that Shannon, a sophomore from Chicago, would eventually deliver in his first NCAA appearance.

”Didn’t play as well as he wanted to, or we wanted him to, or I wanted him to in the first half,” Beard said, “It wasn’t because he wasn’t trying. His heart was in the right place.”

Beard had seen some of better players at Tech, including Jarrett Culver and Davide Moretti.

”That first game is a tough one,” Beard said. “I thought he did a great job at halftime, calming down, taking the coaching, having confidence in himself, remembering all of the hours in the gym and sacrifices that he’s made since last season ended to now. And really having the courage to play great down the stretch.”

Eight of Shannon’s points came in a 2:40 stretch at the start of the run.

”TJ just started making shots and we just kept playing through him,” forward Kevin McCullar said of Shannon.

Even though Queta still filled out the stat sheet nicely with 11 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and seven blocks, Tech double teams limited him to eight shots. Still, Beard called Queta a future pro and the best-passing big man he had seen this year.

McClung, the transfer from Georgetown, led Tech with 16 points although he missed his first five shots from the field.

”It was great. I don’t know if anything is better than this tournament,” McClung told the TNT broadcast crew before being whisked away similarly to when he exited an ESPN interview earlier this year. “Don’t blame it on me. Blame it on coach Beard.”

For his part, Beard went off one of the tangents that made press conferences required listening two years ago during Tech’s run to the finals. Between that and win, it was all kind of familiar.

Specifically, Beard wasn’t sure about how he looked on camera during the press conference, with his facial hair not looking so dark in spots.

”I felt like the beard was a good thing but I’ve got major white in the beard right here,” Beard said, pointing above his chin. “Not really sure how I feel about it. The NCAA must be rocking a different camera than we have in Lubbock.”

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