RECAP: No. 11 Red Raiders 63, Kansas State 57

LUBBOCK, Texas – A sold-out United Supermarkets Arena crowd saw No. 11-ranked Texas Tech jump out to a 14-0 lead to start the game and earn a 63-57 win over Kansas State on Saturday to improve to 2-0 in Big 12 play and 9-0 at home this season.

The Red Raiders (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) held the Wildcats (10-4, 0-2 Big 12) to an 0-for-13 shooting performance to begin the game with their first basket not coming until the 9:12 mark of the first half. TTU led 17-3 eight minutes into the game and by as many as 16 in the first half before the game tightened in the second half. The Wildcats would pull to within one point with 6:56 remaining in the game before Davide Moretti took over with a 3-pointer and layup to push the lead back to six. KSU would never get back into the game with the Red Raiders making 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch.

“I thought we showed grit,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “We weren’t playing our best at one point, but we hung in there. We just held on, and that’s a good thing in the game of basketball. If you can hold that threshold you’re doing good. A college basketball game is 10 four-minute games. Tonight we won the game in the first half. Our defense was locked in. We basically won the first game during the first half and made enough plays late to survive. This is what the Big 12 is. I would love to come out here and play well for 38 minutes but that’s not the reality of this league.”

Texas Tech, which opened Big 12 play with a win 62-59 road win at West Virginia, will return to action at 8 p.m. on Tuesday when it hosts Oklahoma at the USA. The Sooners will be coming off a 74-64 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday and are currently 12-2 on the season and 1-1 in conference play after beginning the week with a 70-63 loss at Kansas. The Red Raiders continue leading the nation by limiting teams to 33.4 percent shooting and is second by holding teams to 53.1 points per game.

Moretti led the Red Raiders with a career-high 19 points after going 7-for-11 from the field with three 3-pointers and two free throws. A sophomore from Italy, Moretti had previously scored 17 points in wins over Mississippi Valley State and Southern Cal this season and came into the game on Saturday averaging 8.7 points per game. His game was highlighted by his 19 points, but it also included an impressive steal with 1:34 remaining where he dove for a loose ball and with four rebounds. He’d finish with two assists and two steals in a game where he also fouled out in the final minute.

“I tried to attack the basket and get fouled,” Moretti said. “With every play I just tried to be more aggressive. Some stats I played good. I had way too many turnovers and too many stupid fouls. Those are the things I need to clean up. I have to work on turnovers. My teammates need me to work on that.”

Matt Mooney added 14 points, including a 3-pointer to start the 14-0 run, and also had four rebounds and a steal in the win. Jarrett Culver, Kyler Edwards and Tariq Owens each had nine points and Deshawn Corprew hit one 3-pointer. The Red Raiders finished the game shooting 44.7 percent from the field, including hitting six 3-pointers. Moretti led the team with his three 3s, while Mooney, Corprew and Edwards each added one. Culver’s nine points were the first time this season that he has not scored in double-digits and came with him struggling from the field at 2-for-7 and going 5-for-10 at the free-throw line. He’s now shooting 56 percent from the field and leads the Red Raiders with 18.7 points per game this season.

Texas Tech owned a 34-19 lead at halftime after limiting the Wildcats to 23.1 percent shooting and 0-for-9 on 3-pointers. Moretti led the Red Raiders with nine points and also had four rebounds and two assists at half, while Edwards had seven and Owens six. TTU was 11-for-25 (44 percent) from the field and hit four 3-pointers to take the 15-point halftime lead.

Barry Brown led Kansas State with 16 points and three steals, while Cartier Diarra added 11 and Makol Mawien recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Wildcats, who host West Virginia on Wednesday, were limited to 33.3 percent shooting by the nation’s top defensive team. KSU would finish the game 4-for-23 on 3-pointers (17.4 percent) and had a 33-32 rebounding margin advantage with 13 offensive rebounds coming on their misses.

QUICK NOTES
The Red Raiders are now 42-4 on their home court under Beard.
Texas Tech improved 4-1 against KSU with Beard as head coach
Kansas State now leads the all-time series 23-16
TTU is now 12-7 against KSU in Lubbock
TTU has now won three straight against the Wildcats
The two teams will play again on Tuesday, Jan. 22 in Manhattan, Kansas

POSTGAME QUOTES

Texas Tech sophomore Davide Moretti
On his overall game today:
“I tried to attack the basket and get fouled. With every play I just tried to be more aggressive. Some stats I played good. I had way too many turnovers and too many stupid fouls. Those are the things I need to clean up. I have to work on turnovers. My teammates need me to work on that.”

On the crowd’s energy:
“The team fed off of that, absolutely. The crowd was amazing, like Coach said. We need everyone here Tuesday. Today was a big time moment. Everyone felt it.”

On protecting the home court after a big win against West Virginia:
“The first thing we set out to do today was protect the home court. For our fans, we tried to play aggressive. We tried to play hard defense and be tough every single possession. Our first objective this game was to protect the home court.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard
Opening Statement:
“I just want to thank the crowd. Students aren’t back in session, and to have a near sell out game was a great atmosphere. This is what college basketball is all about. This is what attendance and home-court advantage can be. I think when our guys needed it most, the crowd really picked them up. We had a couple of possessions there that felt like a championship-like atmosphere. I am very appreciative of everyone who came in to town early for school and certainly all the people in Lubbock and lastly, our season ticket holders. A lot of people put in a lot of work into this game to get special groups here. We want to recognize everyone and the big crowd. There is no doubt the crowd helped us win the game.”

On Davide’s hustle play at the end of the game for a steal:
“I watched it with my naked eye. I saw the loose ball and it looked like it was too far for him to dive and with the time and score I was thinking an intelligent play would be not to do it, but then he just did it. Then I thought about this poster I had in my bedroom growing up. It was a Converse poster of Denise Robin diving across the poster horizontally. There was a lot of symbolism in that play. Moretti has come here and has tried to get tougher and used to playing college basketball. This is a different game here than it is in Europe. I thought it was a big play that symbolized tonight we needed some grit to beat a tough Kansas State team. We needed a tough play at that moment and Moretti delivered.”

On Davide’s progress this season:
“It is just a work in progress. To me he is a good college player. He needs to get a little stronger and more experience, but he is taking the next step. That is hard to do. He came in here and contributed on a really good team last year and helped us in the month of March. This just doesn’t happen naturally. You have to work and take that next step from contributor to a main minute player. We are going to have to trust in a lot of different situations. A lot of work has gone into this. Jarrett Culver gets a lot of attention for his work ethic, which he should, but Moretti is right there with him. Every guy on our team is in the gym a lot, and Moretti is one of the top ones.”

On Tech handling K-State’s pressure:
“I thought we showed grit. We weren’t playing our best at one point, but we hung in there. We just held on, and that’s a good thing in the game of basketball. If you can hold that threshold you’re doing good. A college basketball game is ten four-minute games. Tonight we won the game in the first half. We scored mid-thirty points against Kansas State. That is a lot of points. Our defense was locked in. We basically won the first game during the first half and made enough plays late to survive. This is what the Big 12 is. I would love to come out here and play well for 38 minutes but that’s not the reality of this league. Although we didn’t play our best game today, I give that to Kansas State and Coach Weber and his team.”

Kansas State coach Bruce Weber
On Tech’s defense:
“Well, they guard different than anybody else to his (Coach Beard’s) credit. They do a great job of staying compact, pressuring things, keeping it on their side, really coming to help them. They kind of play on your ego. They push you to drive to the hoop and you got to make the right play. They lead the country in charges, taking charges. You got to go in there and make the right play. You got to get the ball in the center of the court and obviously with us being down guys, we thought if we moved them a little bit, got some movement, maybe we’d get them spread out a little bit… I thought we did a little better job in the second half. You scored 38 and probably should’ve scored more than that. We had some more opportunities, but we hope not to spot them like last year – it was 17 to 2 or something, and we cut it to 7 this year, 14 to nothing, we cut it to 1. But when you got to fight your butt off like that, it’s hard to recover and grab that lead.”

On the difficulty of being down early in the game:
“To our guy’s credit, we figured some things out. We finished the half, we scored a little better. We scored better in the second half. Obviously, it helps if Kam can make a shot or two, that spreads the defense, that opens up stuff for everyone else because they worry about it. I think our guys, if you’re going to go to the hoop, you got to go strong, you got to go straight line-drive and then you got to make the right play. A couple times Barry made big time plays, but then the next time they’re coming, now you got to dish it, get it to the next guy. I thought Shaun Neal-Williams did it a couple times, got it to Mak (Makol?) and they make you make reads that you don’t normally make against other teams.”

On holding Culver to single digits:
“Well, Barry is one of the best defensive players in the country. He locks in, he studies film and he knows the players. He did a great job of getting under him (Culver), I thought, not giving him space. He frustrated him and that’s not easy to do because I think he’s one of the best players in the country. Last year, we wanted to vote for him for All-Conference and then Coach Beard didn’t even have him on the list and I was like ‘What the heck?’ He’s a good player and he does a lot of good things. He passes the ball, he can get to the hoop, he can get to the free throw line, he rebounds. He’s a very talented young man, and again, we held him but we didn’t.. Moretti has a huge game and hits. It seemed like every time we made a push, he was the one who hit some big, big shots that made the difference in the game. Him and the young freshman. I thought his (Kyler’s) start was really important for them. He had 7 of the first 14 points and we could never catch up.”

On Tech’s momentum today:
“It was huge. We were all talking about it. There were so many plays. We had the chance, I thought, to take the lead and then it goes the other way to his credit. We had 11 stops in 12 possessions. They’re good defensively, so are we, and we’re up in the top in the country also. Once we settled down, we did a great job of defending, but his history was huge. And then, I’m not sure what happened, I have to go back and watch and see what happened, but it was a very hectic game, very physical. To their credit, they played their butt’s off and they’re on that floor and they always find ways to win and that’s what they did tonight.”

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