RECAP: No. 8 Red Raiders 80, Iowa State 73

AMES, Iowa – Texas Tech won this fight.

For the first time in program history, the No. 8 Red Raiders have earned the Big 12 Conference regular-season championship after extending a nine-game winning streak with an 80-73 victory over Iowa State in the 18th round of the conference fight on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

Texas Tech (26-5, 14-4 Big 12) finished as co-champions with Kansas State which earned a 68-53 win over Oklahoma on Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas. The Red Raiders, who also snapped a seven-game losing streak in Ames, have now won 13 regular-season titles in program history after winning six Southwest Conference regular-season titles (1961, 1962, 1973, 1985, 1995, 1996) and six Border Conference regular-season championships (1933, 1934, 1935, 1954, 1955, 1956). Tech will begins its next fight as the second seed in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Championship next week where it will play at 6 p.m. on Thursday against the Oklahoma-West Virginia first-round winner.

“Our deal from the first day was to be a part of the fight,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “The first year we were really competitive but we just couldn’t win the close games. Last year we were right there down there down the stretch. To get here in our third year you have to give all of our players the credit. They are the ones that believed. You can imagine all the outside noises. It starts in recruiting when people say you can’t win the Big 12 at Texas Tech. I’ve always disagreed. You get the right people in the locker room it’s all about culture and expectations.”

Jarrett Culver scored a career-high 31 points with four 3-pointers, while Davide Moretti also hit four 3-pointers and finished with 20 points for the Red Raiders and Matt Mooney added 13 points and five assists. Tariq Owens also had a career night with 14 rebounds and Brandone Francis hit two second-half 3-pointers to help lead the team to the win. Culver finished the game 12-for-19 form the field for the Red Raiders who were 13-for-13 from the free-throw line in the game. Owens would also go for eight points and extended his season-long block streak to 31 with three against the Cyclones. He now has a 75 blocked shots this season, while Mooney has 54 steals after leading the Red Raiders with four in the game. Moretti is now 25-for-39 (64.1 percent) on 3-pointers during the nine-game winning streak and is also 33-for-34 from the free-throw line after going 4-for-4 in the win over the Cyclones. He leads the nation by shooting 93.3 percent from the line, finishing the regular season 84-for-90 and with 11.6 points per game.

Tech had a 14-9 turnover margin advantage in the game that evened the season series with ISU.

Culver surpassed his previous career-high of 30 points against Abilene Christian, finished the game shooting 12-for-19 from the field and also added four rebounds and three assists. He has now scored 982 career points and finishes the regular season averaging 18.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

“I told him all week in preparation that we wouldn’t need him to score 30,” Beard said. “We needed him to have a great defensive game, share the ball and take what the defense gave him. I was incorrect though. It’s not the first time I was wrong in my life. We needed all those 31 he gave us. He’s a special player and he’d be the first to tell you that he would give all his teammates who passed for him and screened for him all the credit. He’s a really unselfish guy.”

Texas Tech trailed by two at halftime after Moretti took the game into the break with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and then took the lead on a Culver 3-pointer on its first possession of the second half. Tech, which went 6-3 on the road in Big 12 play, would lead for most of the second half before it was tied at 65 with four minutes remaining before a Francis 3-pointer was followed by a Culver jumper and two Owens free throws for a 72-65 lead with two minutes remaining. The halftime deficit was their first during the nine-game winning streak and the seven-point margin to end the game was also the largest of the game.

“I thought there were a lot of key parts to the game today,” Beard said. “We got down 8-0 and the ability to come back in was big. It looked like we might be down eight or nine at halftime and that’s not where we wanted to be. We won those last two minutes in the first half. Those were pivotal parts of the game. For the most part, when Iowa State made a play which most great teams do, we had an answer.”

Texas Tech took a 51-45 after going on a 10-0 run with Moretti starting it with a jumper, followed by a 3-pointer by Culver. Moretti would hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game to build the 8-0 run with 13:32 remaining. Moretti had 16 points at that point in the game and was 4-for-5 on 3-pointer for the Red Raiders who were up four after having knocked down nine 3s. A Mooney layup took the run to 10-0 before a Shayok jumper made it 51-47 with 11:43 remaining. On the next possession, Culver missed a 3-pointer but it was followed by a dunk by Owens as the Red Raiders continued their second-half momentum that was at 57-54 after four straight from Mooney – a layup and a pair of free throws as the game got under the eight minute mark.

Shayok would hit a 3-pointer to cut Tech’s lead to 62-59 with 5:52 remaining before Francis responded by making the 10th 3-pointer by the Red Raiders in the game to regain control.

Texas Tech trailed 36-34 at halftime after Moretti buried a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer off an assist to cap a 6-0 run by the Red Raiders that started with Mooney hitting a 3 at the shot-clock buzzer on the previous possession. ISU led by eight points three times in the first half before taking the two-point halftime lead with Tech going 6-for-14 on 3-pointers in the half. Culver led the Red Raiders with 12 points with two 3s, while Moretti scored 11 in the opening half after hitting 3 of 4 on 3-pointers with two coming in the final two minutes of the half. The Cyclones made five 3-pointers in the half,, led by Wiggington who had nine points with two 3s and Horton-Tucker who had a team-leading 10 points and one 3-pointer in the half. Shayok had six points in the opening half with two 3-pointers to begin the game.

Iowa State started the game on an 8-0 run with two 3-pointers from Shayok before the Red Raiders responded with a 9-0 run of their own to take their first lead of the game. Tech’s run came on an Owens tip-in for the first points of the game before he hit two free throws followed by a Culver layup and 3-pointer. Down 15-11, Moretti drilled a 3-pointer with 11:10 remaining in the half to cut it back to one followed by forcing a turnover on the other end on ISU’s next possession. Another Culver 3-pointer gave the Red Raiders a 21-20 lead before an ISU run that had them leading 24-21 on a 3 by Wiggington.

ISU took a 33-25 lead on a 7-0 run before Moretti drilled his second 3-pointer of the half off an assist by Mooney. The 3-pointer was the fourth of the half by Tech with Moretti at 2-for-3 at that point in the game before his last-second 3-pointer before halftime.

“I’ve been fortunate in my career to coach a lot of great players so we have some nets around, but this one is special because of building the program and these seniors staying the course. We had great contributions and this may be the most unselfish team I’ve ever coached. We don’t shy away from being connected and how we play for each other. I’m going to give a piece of this net to last year’s seniors and some other people around Tech who have played a huge role in this.”

UP NEXT: The Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Championship is set for next week at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, starting on Wednesday with two first-round matchups. The Red Raiders will have a first-round bye for the second straight season. The team will be the first or second seed in the tournament depending on the result of tonight’s Kansas State game. The title game is at 5 p.m. on Saturday to determine the Big 12 Conference tournament champion. The Red Raiders will be making their 23rd appearance at the Big 12 Championship and are 14-22 at the tournament. Tech earned a 73-69 win over Texas in the quarterfinals last season before dropping a 66-63 semifinal matchup against West Virginia. The Red Raiders went on to advance to their first-ever NCAA Elite Eight in the national tournament. Tech won six SWC tournament titles coming in 1976, 1985, 1986, 1993, 1996.



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