Texas Tech topples Michigan State to reach first title game
MINNEAPOLIS -- Texas Tech extended its first-ever trip to the Final Four with a 61-51 victory over Michigan State on Saturday, April 6, in a national semifinal game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Red Raiders advance to the final game of the NCAA Tournament, Monday's national championship game against Virginia.
On the back of fifth-year senior graduate transfer guard Matt Mooney's 22 points, Texas Tech came out firing in the second half and held off a Spartans' rally.
Cassius Winston led Michigan State with 16 points but shot just 4 of 16 from the floor while being tracked most of the game by Mooney, who made 8 of 16 shots and 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver, the Big 12 Player of the Year, was quiet until a raindrop right-handed runner gave Texas Tech its first field goal in five minutes and a 54-51 edge with 2:28 left.
He finished with 10 points.
Senior Matt McQuaid's bid to tie with a long 3-point attempt at the other end rattled in and out, and Culver made the first of two free throws. Texas Tech got the ball back with its fourth steal of the game on Michigan State's next possession, and Culver hit an uncontested trey from the top of the key, putting the Red Raiders up 58-51.
Senior Norense Odiase made two free throws to seal it with 39.7 seconds left after the Spartans' Kenny Goins clanked a 3-point try.
The Spartans stayed in the game at the free-throw line. Sophomore Xavier Tillman rattled in two after Winston connected on four consecutive shots from the stripe, and Michigan Statewhittled a 12-point deficit to five (52-47) with 5:38 remaining.
The Spartans cut it to three with just over three minutes to play on freshman Aaron Henry's two makes, then made it 52-51 when Henry's slashing layup went in with 2:44 left.
Texas Tech roared out of the halftime locker room with buckets on four of five possessions and took an eight-point lead -- 39-31 -- on a three-point play by freshman Kyler Edwards. Edwards drove hard from the left baseline and moved the ball from his right to left hand, putting it off the glass as he was fouled.
On the next possession, Mooney connected on a 3-ball from the wing and after a Michigan State turnover, the senior transfer drilled another to stake Texas Tech to a 45-33 advantage, prompting a red-faced Tom Izzo to call timeout.
Most of the damage was done while Culver watched from the bench with three fouls.
Suffocating defense won the first half on either end and neither team could find its legs. Only 15 of 49 field-goal attempts went through, and Texas Tech led 23-21 at the break.