By R.L. Bynum
Since transferring to Texas Tech, Kerwin Walton hasn’t had many chances to show what he can do. But he took advantage of his opportunity on Tuesday night.
Playing 22 minutes, his most in a Big 12 Conference game, Walton scored 12 points and four 3-pointers, both season-highs, at home against No. 21 Baylor. The bad news is that the Red Raiders (10–8, 0–6 Big 12) lost 81–74 for their sixth consecutive defeat.
The 22 minutes were more than Walton combined to play in the previous four games, including not playing in Texas Tech’s 72–70 loss Saturday at Texas.
He had only played more than 20 minutes three times, all in non-conference November games (24 against Northwestern State and Texas Southern and 22 against Louisana Tech). Walton played more than 20 minutes four times for UNC last season (31 against Purdue, 28 against College of Charleston, 27 against Loyola of Maryland and 24 against Tennessee).
“I’m not too worried about the offense,” said Walton, who was 4 of 6 from the floor (all 3-point attempts) with two assists. “It was the defense for us. We made a lot of good shots; we got easy ones, got to make some tough ones. We scored a lot of points, but we didn’t get enough stops. I think that was our biggest issue.”
Two Walton 3-pointers cut Texas Tech’s deficit to five before a Jaylon Tyson 3-pointer sliced Baylor’s lead to 38-34 with four minutes left in the first half. Walton’s fourth 3-pointer with 10 minutes left in the game trimmed the Bears’ deficit to 70–57.
“At this point, it’s just about energy,” Walton said. “We switched it up a little bit, played a little bit of zone, played a little bit of man. It’s all on us. I don’t think anybody really played that great defensively in that game. I think that’s just something we’ve got to really lock in on.”
It gets no easier for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are last in the conference and play at 2 p.m. Saturday at No. 13 Kansas State (ESPN2), which beat No. 2 Kansas on Tuesday 83–82 in overtime.
The career-highs for Walton, who didn’t play in UNC’s overtime win over Baylor in the second round of the NCAA tournament, came when he scored 19 points and five 3-pointers in Carolina’s 99–54 victory over Louisville on Feb. 20, 2021.
Dawson Garcia had another solid game for Minnesota but in a 78–60 Monday home loss to Illinois. Garcia collected 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal. The Gophers fell to 7–9 overall and 1–5 in the Big Ten, which is last in the league.
Garcia, who scored 28 points in the Gophers’ win at Ohio State on Thursday, said that the team “flatlined” by shooting 15 of 25 from the free-throw line and, in the second half, shooting 28% from the floor.
“The second half was just uncharacteristic and unacceptable,” said Garcia, who scored in double figures for the eighth consecutive game and the 14th time this season. “I think the best thing for us to do is learn from that and watch it. It’s going to be tough to watch, but we have to learn from it and flush it. We have to continue to build off the Ohio State game.”
Garcia is averaging 19.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in the last four games.
Minnesota is at home against No. 3 Purdue at 8 p.m. Saturday (Big Ten Network).
Jeremiah Francis made 7 of 8 shots and scored a season-high 14 points Monday as Emmanuel College earned a 76–72 home league victory over North Greenville. Francis has scored in double figures in only five of his 15 games, but three of those have come in the last four.
The Lions are 10–7 overall and 6–3 in the Conference Carolinas, good for fifth place, three games back of league-leading Barton.
Checking in on 5 former Heels
Jeremiah Francis, Emmanuel College guard
6–1, 190 pounds | Junior | UNC 2019–20 (1 season)
76–72 Monday win vs. North Greenville — Started; 33 minutes, 14 points, 7–8 FG, 0–1 3FG, 3 rebounds, 3 fouls, 2 assists, 2 turnovers
Season statistics — 15 games, 15 starts, 7.7 points, 36.5% FG, 27.6 3FG, 77.8 FT%, 2.5 rebounds; totals of 36 assists, 12 steals and 1 block
Up next — 7 p.m. Wednesday at Lees-McRae; 4 p.m. Saturday vs. Erskine
Dawson Garcia, Minnesota forward
6–11, 230 pounds | Sophomore | UNC 2020–21 (part of 1 season)
78–60 Monday loss vs. Illinois — Started; 37 minutes, 17 points, 6–14 FG, 1–3 3FG, 4–6 FT, 6 rebounds, 2 fouls, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal
Season statistics — 16 games, 16 starts, 15.6 points, 45.9 FG%, 31.5 3FG%, 71.1 FT%, 6.6 rebounds; totals of 29 assists, 10 steals, 9 blocks
Up next — 7 p.m. Thursday vs. No. 3 Purdue, ESPN2; 1 p.m. Sunday at Michigan, Big Ten Network
Anthony Harris, Rhode Island guard
6–4, 190 pounds | Junior | UNC 2019–22 (3 seasons)
Because of academic concerns, his season hasn’t started yet. If he joined the Rams team, that should be by the time the spring semester starts on Monday.
Andrew Platek, Siena guard
6–4, 208 pounds | Graduate student | UNC 2017–21 (4 seasons)
Off until Friday
Season statistics — 18 games, 18 starts, 10.2 points, 47.3 FG%, 44.8 3FG%, 60.9 FT%, 2.6 rebounds; totals of 25 assists, 18 steals, 4 blocks
Up next — 7 p.m. Friday vs. Mount St. Mary’s, ESPN+; 2 p.m. Sunday vs. Fairfield, ESPN+
Kerwin Walton, Texas Tech guard
6–5, 200 pounds | Junior | UNC 2020–22 (2 seasons)
81–74 Tuesday loss vs. Baylor — 23 minutes, 12 points, 4–6 FG, 4–6 3FG, 2 fouls, 2 assists
Season statistics — 16 games, 193 minutes, 59 points, 20–42 FG (47.6%), 14–33 3FG (42.4%), 5–6 FT, 16 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks
Up next — 2 p.m. Saturday at No. 13 Kansas State, ESPN2; 7 p.m. Wednesday vs. West Virginia, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU
Photo via @TexasTechMBB