RECAP: No. 8 Red Raiders 70, Texas 51

LUBBOCK, Texas – The Big 12 Conference regular-season title will come down to the final day of the season after No. 8 Texas Tech earned a 70-51 win over Texas on Senior Night at the United Supermarkets Arena and No. 18 Kansas State won on the road at TCU on Monday as the teams remain tied atop the standings going into Saturday.

The Red Raiders (25-5, 13-4 Big 12) extended their winning streak to eight games, improved to 17-1 at home for the second straight season and are in position to win their first conference regular-season title since earning a Southwest Conference championship in 1996. Tech held an opponent under 55 points for the 12th time this season and under 30 percent shooting for the sixth after limiting the Longhorns (16-14, 8-9 Big 12) to only 29.6 percent shooting on the night. After 17 rounds of the Big 12 Conference fight, a win at Iowa State would clinch at least a share of the conference title.

“It feels great, honestly,” TTU senior Norense Odiase said. “We have worked so hard for this moment to be 40 minutes away from the championship. We just lock in every possession, every practice, and every walk through. It is paying off right now, so it feels good.”

Texas Tech will now travel to play the Cyclones at 1 p.m. on Saturday in its regular-season finale, KSU hosts Oklahoma at 5 p.m. on Saturday and No. 13 Kansas (11-5) plays Baylor in Lawrence on the final day of the season after its game against Oklahoma on Tuesday.

“This is what it’s all about,” said Chris Beard, who improved to 50-5 at home in three seasons as Tech’s head coach. “This is the thing we talk about. We always want to be a part of the fight. You want to be trying to play your best basketball during March. Of course I want to coach all of March and into April. This is what we are here for. I am so proud of our players.”

Texas Tech honored its senior class of Odiase, Brandone Francis, Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney along with Andrew Sorrells who will be graduating in May before the game. Odiase has now been a part of 102 wins during his five years at Tech and would finish with three blocked shots to help lead the team to the win. Each senior scored and would combine for 36 points in the 19-point win to close out their careers on their home court.

“That’s one of the most rewarding things as a coach,” Beard said. “It’s obviously about trying to win games and championships but there’s another more important side. Let’s talk about these five guys, each one of them has their degree, three of them are working towards their graduate degrees, just all unselfish guys.”

Jarrett Culver led the Red Raiders with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Matt Mooney had 15 points, Brandone Francis added 12 to lead the reserves and Davide Moretti went for 11 points after going 3-for-3 on 3-pointers. Texas Tech senior Tariq Owens established a new single-season program record after having three blocks and now has 72 on the season to pass Tony Battie who had held the record since 1996-97. Owens has recorded a block in every game this season and would also have five rebounds and two steals in the win.

Texas Tech led 32-23 at halftime to jump out to its eighth straight double-digit halftime lead after shooting 14-for-26 (53.8 percent) from the field and limiting the Longhorns to only 29.6 percent from the field and 2-for-9 on 3-pointers. Mooney led the Red Raiders at halftime with 11 points after going 5-for-7 from the field in the opening 20 minutes and Deshawn Corprew added seven points and six rebounds. Corprew finished the game with that same stat line that helped the Red Raiders own a 22-15 advantage in bench scoring.

The Red Raiders, who are now outscoring opponents by a 14.6 margin this season and by a 20.4 margin during the eight-game winning streak, had a 15-point lead on a jumper by Mooney with 1:30 remaining in the first half and took a 50-34 lead on a Francis 3-pointer midway through the second half. Tech’s lead hit 20 for the first time in the game with Culver hitting a 3-pointer with 8:38 remaining and the largest advantage of the game was at 21 when Andrew Sorrells hit another 3 in the final minute of play. The Red Raiders finished the game shooting 9-for-18 from beyond the arc and was 11-for-16 at the free-throw line.

Moretti is now 11-for-15 on 3-pointers in the past four games and leads the team with 58 3-pointers this season at a 47.2 percentage. Moretti, who leads the nation by shooting 93.0 percent on free throws, didn’t get to the line in the game. Culver scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half and has now scored in double-digits in 28 of 30 games and leads the team with 17.9 points per game. He also now has 110 assists this season going into the regular-season finale.

Texas Tech swept the season series over the Longhorns for the first time since 1996 and had their largest margin of victory over them since earning 29-point and 30-point wins back in 1984. The Red Raiders have now won four straight over Texas after also taking a 68-62 victory earlier this season in Austin. Tech’s eight-game conference winning streak extends the program record and the Red Raiders are now a win in Ames away from securing at least a share of their first Big 12 Conference regular-season title in program history. Beard is now 70-29 overall in his three seasons as the team’s head coach and earned his 100th victory as a NCAA Division I head coach after leading Little Rock to a 30-5 record in the 2015-16 season before returning to Lubbock.

 

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