Texas Tech men’s basketball clinched its first ever trip to the national championship game with a 61-51 win over two-seed Michigan State.
This game won’t go in history books as a work of art. Instead, it was an ugly, grind-it-out matchup. But with Chris Beard as its coach, the Red Raiders were more than ready.
Big 12 Player of the Year Jarrett Culver struggled mightily in his first Final Four. He didn’t score a field goal until 31 minutes into the game. But in the biggest moments, the hometown Lubbock Coronado hero made the biggest shots in program history.
Michigan State cut a 12-point second half lead all the way down to one point. But then, Culver scored a quick layup, hit a step-back three-pointer and nailed a free throw to go on a quick 6-0 run. The Spartans never threatened again.
As it usually is with the Red Raiders, defense took center stage. Texas Tech held the Spartans to just 31.9 percent from the field. The first half, a 23-21 bloodbath, was the lowest scoring half in a Final Four since 2000. Michigan State All-American Cassius Winston scored 16 points, but converted on just four of his 16 shots.
South Dakota transfer Matt Mooney led the way for Texas Tech with 22 points, including four huge three-pointers. With Culver struggling, Mooney’s offense took center stage for most of the game. Culver was the only other Red Raider in double-digits – he had 10 points.
The Red Raiders will now advance to face off against one-seed Virginia in the national championship game on Monday evening. Texas Tech hopes to become the first Texan team since the 1966 Texas Western Miners to win the national title.
Texas Tech will tip off against Virginia at 8:20 p.m. CT Monday on CBS.