LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech senior Brandone Francis provided the spark and sophomore Jarrett Culver took over to lead the No. 8 Red Raiders to a 66-59 win over No. 23 Oklahoma on Tuesday at the United Supermarkets Arena.
The Red Raiders (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) finished the game on a 15-8 run with Culver scoring nine during it to pull away after the game was tied at 51 with five minutes to play. TTU, which trailed by four at halftime, improved to 10-0 at home with the win and is 3-0 to start conference play for the second straight season under head coach Chris Beard who improved to 43-4 at home leading the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech finished the game shooting 17-for-17 from the free-throw line and its national-leading defense held Oklahoma (12-3, 1-2 Big 12) to only 32.3 shooting. The Red Raiders are now limiting teams to only 33.3 percent shooting through 15 games and also lead the Big 12 with a 19.5 scoring margin and holding opponents to 53.5 points per game. TTU, which plays at Texas at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Austin, has now held all three conference opponents under 60 points and have not allowed any of its opponents to score over 70 this season. The Longhorns (10-5, 2-1 Big 12) will be coming off a 61-58 loss at Oklahoma State, but have won 22 straight over the Red Raiders in Austin dating back to TTU’s last win there on Feb. 24, 1996.
“It’s an 18-round fight and we’re excited to win round three against a team that we have nothing but respect for,” Beard said. “I’ve said it all week in preparation and I’ll stand by it, Oklahoma is going to be a part of the fight for the conference championship. I’m just really happy for our players tonight because I think we just beat a really good team.”
Culver recorded his first double-double of the season and third of his career after going for 23 points and and a career-high 13 rebounds. The Lubbock native also had double-doubles last season against West Virginia and Texas in conference play as a freshman and would drop 23/13 on the Sooners with 11 points and nine rebounds coming in the second half. With the game tied, Culver made back-to-back layups for a 55-51 lead with 3:37 remaining, a lead Texas Tech wouldn’t relinquish.
Oklahoma led by as many as eight points in the game and had a five point lead with 13 minutes remaining before Francis drilled a 3-pointer to cut it to two. Francis would get a defense rebound on the next possession, hit two free throws on the next to tie the game at 46 and three possessions later hit his second 3-pointer to give the Red Raiders a 51-48 lead. He finished the game with eight points after being held scoreless last Saturday against Kansas State.
Davide Moretti added 12 points after hitting two 3-pointers and four free throws a game after recording a career-high 19 points against KSU. Moretti is now averaging 14.3 points per game through three conference games with seven 3-pointers to lead the Red Raiders. Tariq Owens would add four blocks and six rebounds, while Matt Mooney had seven points and two assists. Owens now has 38 blocks and has had four or more blocks in three games. He’s averaging 2.5 per game which ranks second behind on Jaxson Hayes who is averaging 2.6 for the Longhorns. The Red Raiders finished with eight blocks for the second straight game, including one each from Norense Odiase, Kyler Edwards, Francis and Corprew to go along with four from Owens.
Texas Tech finished the game shooting 44.9 percent from the field despite going only 5-for-19 on 3-pointers, while the defense forced 14 turnovers and held them to 20-for-62 shooting. OU was 9-for-29 on 3-pointers in the game led by Christian James who had three and finished with a team-high 14 points. Brady Manek would also hit three 3-pointers and had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Sooners who finished the game shooting 10-for-14 from the free-throw line.
Texas Tech trailed 35-31 at halftime after starting the game hot with an 8-0 run but seeing Oklahoma storm back late in the half with a 9-0 run that gave the Sooners a 27-23 lead. Moretti came out with two 3-pointers followed by an assist to Norense Odiase for a dunk to grab the early 8-0 lead in the game. The Sooners had a 24-15 rebounding advantage, including a 10-1 margin on the offensive end to take the four-point lead. OU led 30-25 on a Christian James 3-pointer with 4:32 remaining in the half before Culver hit a pair of free throws and a jumper for the final four points of the half. Culver’s jumper came with two seconds remaining and gave him 12 points and 4-for-7 shooting in the first half. Culver was 4-for-4 at the free-throw line for the Red Raiders who were 6-for-6 at halftime and also had six points from Moretti. James led OU at halftime with nine points, while Doolittle and Manek had seven points each.
The Red Raiders, who trailed for only the fourth time this season at halftime, were shooting 11-for-28 from the field (39.3 percent) in the first half while the Sooners were 12-for-36 (33.3). OU was 5-for-14 on 3-pointers and also 6-for-6 on free throws against TTU which started the game 3-for-13 on 3-pointers.
“The first half they were beating us on rebounds, and I believe we beat them on rebounds in the second half,” Culver said. “Coach knows that rebounding would be tough and boxing out and that’s what we tried to do. We fought to the end and played to the bone.”
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) January 9, 2019
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) January 9, 2019
Guard / Jarrett Culver
Mentality going into the tie up 51-51 after Brady Manek scored…
“We were just running offense, he (Manek) made a big play, he’s a great player. We stayed our course and made our plays. Coach always talks about being aggressive, so we just wanted to stay aggressive when that happened.”
On them being able to pull away in that 2nd half from a 10 point deficit…
“The first half they were beating us on rebounds, and I believe we beat them on rebounds in the second half. Coach knows that rebounding would be tough and boxing out and that’s what we tried to do. We fought to the end and played to the bone.”
Guard / Brandone Francis
On his playing slump:
“They want me to make plays and I’m in a little slump right now but I wouldn’t want go through that with anyone but Coach. Him giving me opportunities and solo opportunities, I’m just thankful to have these guys in my life. I wish I had met them earlier, making me a better man on and off the court, instilling toughness in me that I can do more than just make shots.”
On him going two for three and contributing to the lead…
“I put in a lot of work with Coach Burg this week, can’t thank him enough for believing in me. Meeting with coach and him instilling confidence in me and telling me to be tough and to just be a basketball player. I feel like if I don’t make plays I’m letting my team down.”
On what contributed to him getting his confidence back…
“The Coaches and staff. Coach Brian Burg, Coach Beard, Coach Adams instilling confidence in me, calling, telling me to not worry about it. Just everyone, if I would’ve met these guys earlier, I wouldn’t have minded giving them my basketball career at a young age. I’m just happy to be here, a blessing to have people who have my back.”
HEAD COACH CHRIS BEARD
On how the team faired in terms of rebounding…
“First half, very poorly. Second half, very well. That’s the one thing we concentrated on at halftime and I wish I would have done a better job with preparation this week. We talked about it, but I don’t think I quite got it across. That is Oklahoma’s identity. They are the best defensive rebounding team in college basketball, you don’t get many offensive rebounds against them. Those same players that are able to do that on the defensive end can go get their share of offensive rebounds so, just like any Coach Kruger tough team, they rebound the ball at a high rate.”
On second half defense…
“I thought the big thing was rebounding, and then as the game went on they started going inside out, so we made it an urgency to pick and choose the times that we wanted to help and pick and choose the times that we wanted to defend the three. When you hold a big twelve team to thirty-something percent shooting, you have to give our defense some credit. I think Oklahoma is a really good so I am really happy tonight for our players. I think we just beat a really good team.
On Oklahoma’s Defense…
“They did really good, they are a patient defense. A lot of people associate patience with offensive basketball but a good defense can be patient too, what I mean by that is they do not foul. It is a big identity of Oklahoma Basketball they do not foul much. You have to work to get possession, so when it gets to be mid to late clock you got to work at them and go at them with the courage to make a play tonight we had some guys. How about Deshawn Corprew with his two baskets in this game, I think really the difference in the game if you look at it that way Deshawn he’s got that courage and Moretti made some plays. Not one of Matt’s better statistical games but one of his best ones in terms of being dialed in.
On Jarrett Culver being the go to guy…
“Yeah I think the first thing and Jarrett would say this to he would give the credit to his teammates. There is guys out there screening for him. Rebounding and getting him the ball and spacing to get him the room. Like all good players do he always deflects the attention to his teammates and that is one of his core values he is so humble”.
Oklahoma Postgame Quotes
HEAD COACH LON KRUGER
“Really really hard fought game. I think the guys on both teams fought like crazy, big time atmosphere, great crowd. Again, I thought right there at the critical stages we didn’t get stops that we needed, [Jarrett] Culver stepped up and made some big plays and kind of created a bit of a margin. But big time game, Big 12 game. You expect that going in and how tough it’s going to be and [Chris] Beard has done a fantastic job and their guys are totally committed and guarding like crazy and doing a lot of good things so tough to finish it. Had an opportunity but not quite ready to do that.”
Challenge that Guard Jarrett Culver presented …
“Yeah he can just do many things, he can score from three, he can drive and kick, really good all-around player, so anyone who can do all that stuff can be a big challenge.”
On main offensive difference…
“We turned it over, we didn’t take care of the ball, a couple breakaways we didn’t finish in transition, like four turnovers the first half, 10 the second, so that’s a big difference. Again, it’s not just the turnovers but it also just gets the crowd involved and gets them going the other way. So, we got to take better care of the ball which has been a concern for us for a while and we have to learn from it and come back and play better.”
On Guard Jarrett Culver’s performance…
“He was a really good player last year, he’s gotten better across the board – he’s bigger and stronger. He plays with more confidence and plays with a little more attack, as a Freshman it might have been a little more difficult to do that perhaps. I think he’s made it his team it appears and done a great job of it.”
On the game inside…
“I thought the guys fought, guys on both teams fought awfully hard. They got [Norense] Odiase, who’s a big guy in there, and [Tariq] Owens of course. They have a lot of good size at the wings too, so we battle on the boards, we create some turnovers but they did a better job at finishing off their turnovers than we did ours.”
“We’ve rebounded the ball decently, guys have been good about getting us to the offensive boards. Again, I don’t know if it has been a big strength, but it has been a little advantage for us.”