LUBBOCK, Texas – Jarrett Culver went for 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists while Davide Moretti knocked down four 3-pointers to help lead No. 15 Texas Tech to an 86-61 Big 12 Conference win over Baylor on Saturday at the United Supermarkets Arena.
The No. 15 Red Raiders (21-5, 9-4 Big 12) extended their conference winning streak to four and also improved to 14-1 on their home court this season by avenging a loss to the Bears (16-9, 7-5 Big 12) earlier this season in Waco. Tech, which led 45-32 at halftime and never had that lead cut below 14 in the second half, made a season-high 12 3-pointers as a team for the second straight game, forced 19 turnovers and would hit a season-high 30 free throws on 35 attempts.
Texas Tech is now away from competition for a week before hosting No. 14 Kansas at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the USA. The Jayhawks (19-6, 9-4 Big 12) will also have the week off before traveling to Lubbock after they earned a 78-53 win over West Virginia on Saturday. In other Big 12 games, No. 23 Iowa State (19-6, 8-4 Big 12) earned a 78-64 win over conference-leading No. 18 Kansas State (19-6, 9-3 Big 12). The Red Raiders, who have now split with the Bears the past four years in the regular-season series, now have five games remaining in the regular season.
“Our objective has always been to be a part of the fight,” said Texas Tech coach Chris Beard who is now 47-5 at home as the team’s head coach. “I’m just really proud of this team. We’re a part of the fight. A lot of people thought that we weren’t going to be able to get back into the fight. You got to give those seniors credit. It starts with Brandone Francis and Norense Odiase, returners that believed. Then there’s Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney, came to this program to make an imprint from Day 1 and they have. There’s lot of basketball left but I think it’s an accurate statement to say Texas Tech is a part of the fight right now with a few weeks left. We’re in contention for the conference championship and that’s our goal.”
Culver led the Red Raiders with his 18 points by hitting three 3-pointers and going 7-for-8 at the free throw line. He would add four assists and is now averaging 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. A sophomore from Lubbock, Culver now has 875 points in his career through 63 games. Moretti stayed hot from beyond the arc, going 4-for-8 and finishing with 17 points. He is now 10-for-18 on 3-pointers in his last four games and added to his point-total on Saturday by hitting 5 of 6 from the free-throw line. Tariq Owens gave the Red Raiders three players in double-figure scoring by contributing 11 points for the second straight game. He would go 7-for-8 from the free-throw line and also had two blocks to take his season total to 63. Odiase had two rebounds in the 99th start of his Texas Tech career.
Texas Tech would limit its turnovers to only nine, including zero from Mooney and Moretti. The Red Raiders shot 40.7 percent from the field and limited Baylor to only 34.7 percent shooting. In the win over Tech in Waco, Baylor forced 17 turnovers and made 11 3-pointers. On Saturday, BU made nine from beyond the arc but also had 10 more turnovers than the Red Raiders who also made 12 more free throws.
Texas Tech would finish the game with 11 players scoring, including getting nine points from Matt Mooney who was 4-for-4 at the free-throw line and seven off the bench from Kyler Edwards and Brandone Francis. Edwards and Francis both had two 3-pointers in the game, while Deshawn Corprew and Andrew Benson both had five points. Corprew was 3-for-3 from the line and also had three rebounds.
Texas Tech matched its season high with 12 3-pointers after Francis hit the 12th to give the Red Raiders a 76-52 lead in a game where they led by as many as 25. Tech has now outscored its last four Big 12 opponents by a 24.0 margin with wins over West Virginia (81-50), Oklahoma (66-54) and Oklahoma State (78-50) before the 25-point win over the Bears.
Texas Tech led 45-32 at halftime after starting the game 8-for-14 on 3-pointers led by Culver who was 3-for-5 and Moretti with two. The Red Raiders were also 17-for-19 at the free-throw line with Culver going 5-for-6 and Owns and Mooney both knocking down all four of their attempts. Corprew had five points at halftime after hitting one shot from the field and also going 3-for-3 at the line. Culver was leading the team with 14 points after hitting his three 3s and also had five rebounds and two assists. Mooney would added seven in the opening half, while Owens and Moretti had six each. Moretti hit the first three of the game on the opening possession and Culver gave the Rd Raiders the 13-point halftime lead with a 3-pointer on their last.
Culver also hit the sixth 3-pointer of the half to push the Red Raider lead to 35-21 with 3:48 remaining with Tech on a 7-0 run and at 6-for-10 on 3-pointers. The lead grew to 42-27 on two free throws by Corprew before Culver’s 3-pointer from NBA-range. Butler led Baylor at halftime with 13 points after going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc for the Bears who were 7-for-13 from beyond the arc. BU was shooting just 34.6 percent from the field and had nine turnovers at the break.
Texas Tech has three more home games on its schedule, first next week’s matchup against Kansas before hosting Oklahoma State on Wednesday, Feb. 27 and then the home finale on Monday, March 4 against Texas. The Red Raiders will enter next Saturday’s game having won four in a row and six of their last seven games.
On Norense being able to be out there and play after a tragedy:
“It was Norense’s decision today to play in the game. I told him yesterday ‘take as much time as you need we’re here for you’. We all know this, basketball’s just a game. A lot more important things than basketball—faith and family on top of that list. I’ve said it before, Norense is one of the most disciplined winner that I’ve ever coached. He’s a great basketball player but he’s even a better man.”
On the win over Baylor:
“I’ll be honest with you, the game was kind of a blur for me. I don’t remember that many runs I just remember trying to be there for Norense. You know I kind of decided today as the leader of this program, as the head coach, you got go to work. I just told Norense today that I had his back and I would do anything I could to coach the team as well as I could and not get too high or too low. We know this doesn’t make anything better. Basically gives him a little bit of an escape for two hours. That was our plan today, to give him and his family an escape from the tragic reality we’re trying to face right now.”
On overcoming adversity from a losing streak to a winning streak:
“You just got to stay the course. In our locker room, there wasn’t much panic going on during that deal. We just understood that we lost a one-possession game at home to a really good Iowa State team. We gave ourselves a chance at two road games in the Big 12. You can’t get too high or too low you got to stay the course. Our objective has always been to be a part of the fight. I’m just really proud of this team, we’re a part of the fight. Here our second year we got right there, we’re part of the fight, and lost a lot of last year’s team. A lot of people thought that we weren’t going to be able to get back into the fight. You got to give those seniors credit. It starts with Brandone and Norense, returners that believed. Then there’s Tariq and Matt, came to this program to make an imprint from day 1 and they have. A lot of basketball left but I think it’s an accurate statement to say Texas Tech is a part of the fight right now with a few weeks left. We’re in contention for the conference championship and that’s our goal.”
BAYLOR HEAD COACH
Scott Drew opening statement:
“I thought that, first and foremost, Coach Beard really did a class thing yesterday with Odiase’s cousins passing. Odiase was best friends with one of our teammates, Makai Mason, in junior high and Makai was excited to see him at the game. Coach Beard called me and allowed me to break the news to Makai, rather than him hear it from other people so we could be there for support. I really appreciated that from Coach Beard. As far as the game goes, I thought Texas Tech, similar to the last couple of games they’ve been playing, their defense has been consistent all year long, but obviously when they’re shooting it at that rate and shooting it that well, they’re at another level. That was the difference, was their three-point shooting. I thought our turnovers were different than the first game. We did a much better job not turning over and getting shots up. Really credit them for causing turnovers and being more aggressive on the ball. I thought the rebounding was an area we had to do a better job on if we wanted to be successful. They were taking care of the basketball and we weren’t able to.”
On the Texas Tech crowd’s energy:
“It’s tough on the road when you get down by large margins and get the crowd involved. I thought the crowd did a super job in helping Texas Tech during those runs and staying inspired.”
On the absence of Makai Mason and King McClure:
“Makai and King, I think if you watch the first game, obviously provide senior leadership, first and foremost, which is very important especially if you want to win on the road in the Big 12. Second of all, besides their maturity and leadership, their play. You have to have guys who can take care of the basketball against Texas Tech and guys who can stretch the defense, and both of them can do that. So, obviously that hurt us, but we had opportunities to step up and have other guys make plays. Credit to Texas Tech for not allowing us to do that.”
On the moment of silence after the game to support Norense Odiase:
“I thought it was really classy for Coach Beard to come over and pray with us, and allow us to comfort Odiase, as well. That’s what sports is about. Like I said, it meant a lot yesterday in practice, the day before the game, to take the time to call and let us break the news to Makai, and obviously he was pretty shook, so I appreciate it.”