Texas Tech Makes History With Final Four Win, Will Play Virginia in Championship Game
For the first time in program history, Texas Tech men's basketball will play in the NCAA Tournament Championship.
Texas Tech's 61-51 win over the Michigan State Spartans cemented The Chris Beard Era in Lubbock. Here's how it happened.
The first half of the game was an out-and-out brawl for dominance -- one the Red Raiders won, though barely. The score after 20 minutes of play time was 23-21.
As the Red Raiders headed into the locker room, Chris Beard told a reporter: "I do think we matched their toughness. Our plan is not to out-tough them. We just gotta play better. We missed a couple switches up. The whole team's got tired. We took three awful shots. So show selection's gotta improve. We just gotta keep battling."
Asking about Jarrett Culver's single point during the first half, Beard credited Michigan State Spartans Head Coach Tom Izzo with keeping the Big 12 Player of the Year locked down.
Texas Tech's defense was on display the entire game, with Tariq Owens knocking down shots and generally keeping the Spartans from getting any sort of momentum going.
In the second half, Michigan State quickly took away the Red Raiders' lead to tie the game. From there, the teams fought tooth-and-nail, with Texas Tech the first to crack the 30-point mark with just over 16 minutes left in the game.
Both teams found their groove in the second half. And that groove was the basketball equivalent of a fist fight. The Red Raiders and Spartans fought each other hard every drive, with the much-acclaimed Texas Tech defense on full display.
A heartbreaking moment for that defense came when Tariq Owens rolled his ankle after going up high for a block alongside teammate Norense Odiase. Owens went to the locker room after the fall, limping, but moving on his own. It was a rough night overall for Owens, who took a couple nasty falls where he hit his head. Thankfully, he returned to the game later, but didn't stay in the game long after sprinting back from the locker room.
But after Owens left the court, the Red Raiders quickly took an 8-point lead, their biggest of the game up to that point. They didn't look back from there.
Red Raider fans in attendance began to drown out the broadcast team, and as the team extended their lead to double digits, 45-33, a cameraman captured former Texas Tech football star and current NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes pulling the string on a notched arrow and letting it fly. The Red Raiders were officially on fire.
With under nine minutes left in the game, Texas Tech led by 12 points. But the Red Raiders didn't get a chance to breathe. Michigan State mounted a fierce offensive flurry, cutting the once-comfortable lead to just three points with under four minutes left, but it was Texas Tech who had more juice to finish the fight.
Jarrett Culver, who only shot 3 of 12 from the field, splashed a three-pointer with 1:01 left in the game to push the lead back to seven, 58-51.
Norense Odiase backed Culver's offensive shot with a defensive play, grabbing a steal and getting fouled on the other end. He would make both free throws. Culver would add one more, and Texas Tech would finish the fight, 61-51.
When the dust settled, the Red Raiders survived the Hot Gates of East Lansing's elite Spartans.
For the third straight tournament game, Texas Tech only allowed four starters to score for the opposing squad, and only one bench player added anything to the total. Texas Tech's bench outscored Michigan State's bench, 15 to 5. Michigan State shot 31 percent from the field.
With Texas Tech's win, they made history for the second time this season. (The first time was making the Final Four by defeating Gonzaga.)
The Texas Tech Red Raiders will play Virginia on Monday, April 8th at 8 p.m in the NCAA Tournament Championship Game.