Spotlight Shines on Red Raiders With Big 12 Honors

LUBBOCK, Texas – It was all about celebrating team success for Texas Tech on Saturday, but Sunday turned to spotlighting some of the players who helped lead the Red Raiders to the program’s first Big 12 Conference regular-season championship.

Texas Tech sophomore Jarrett Culver was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and head coach Chris Beard earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors for the second straight season to highlight Red Raider selections on the 2018-19 Phillips 66 All-Big 12 Basketball Awards. Culver, who was a unanimous All-Big 12 First-Team selection, is the first Red Raider to be named the Big 12 Player of the Year after leading the team with 18.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.6 per game in his second season. Matt Mooney was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, Davide Moretti earned All-Big 12 Third Team honors and Tariq Owens was an honorable mention selection. Owens and Mooney were also named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and Mooney added Big 12 All-Newcomer Team to his list of honors that were selected by the conference’s head coaches. Culver is only the fifth underclassman to earn the Big 12 Player of the Year honor, joining Marcus Smart (2012-13), Blake Griffin (2008-09), Michael Beasley (2007-08) and Kevin Durant (2006-07) for the league’s top honor.

Beard led the team to a 14-4 conference record and to the program’s first Big 12 Conference title on Saturday with an 80-73 win over Iowa State. The victory extended a nine-game winning to end the regular season and takes Beard’s record at Texas Tech to 71-29 over the past three years leading the program. He was also named the Big 12 Conference Co-Coach of the Year last season and now becomes only the third coach in conference history to earn the award in back-to-back seasons, joining Bill Self and Larry Eustachy to receive two straight selections. Under Beard, Tech is 50-5 at home and are the second seed in this week’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Championship where they will play at 6 p.m. on Thursday against the Oklahoma-West Virginia winner.

Culver finished the regular season by leading the Red Raiders with a career-high 31 points against the Cyclones and now has 982 career points. Before leading Tech to the win at Iowa State he was named to the John R. Wooden National Ballot and is also a two-time Big 12 Conference Player of the Week this season. A Lubbock native, Culver has been one of the most consistently dominant players in the nation this season with nine games scoring over 20 points and having scored in double figures in 30 of 31 games. He recorded three double-doubles this season, including going off for a career-high 16 rebounds and 20 points in the first matchup against Iowa State. Culver, who is the 10th player in program history to earn Big 12 First-Team honors, averaged 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game in the 18 conference games this season. He will go into the postseason shooting 48.7 percent from the field and is only 18 points shy of becoming the first Red Raider in program history to reach 1,000 points during their freshman-sophomore seasons.

Mooney was tabbed for three honors on Sunday with his All-Big 12 Second Team selection to go along with Big 12 All-Newcomer and Big 12 All-Defensive Team honors. A graduate transfer from Wauconda, Illinois, Mooney finished the regular season averaging 10.9 points, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He led the Red Raiders with five assists and four steals on Saturday in Ames where he also had 13 points and six rebounds. Mooney scored a season-high 22 points at Texas and has seven games this season with three or more steals in a game. He’s also recorded 27 assists over the past five games going into the postseason.

Moretti leads the nation by shooting 93.3 percent from the free-throw line and tops the conference by shooting 48.1 percent on 3-pointers. A sophomore from Italy, Moretti finished the regular season averaging 11.6 points and 2.6 assists per game after going off for 20 points in the win over Iowa State. He is 25-for-39 (64.1 percent) on 3-pointers during the nine-game winning streak where he’s also 33-for-34 on free throws and finished the regular season shooting 50.7 percent from the field. Moretti scored in double figures in 16 of 18 conference games, including scoring 20 against ISU and Oklahoma State. He has also earned CoSIDA Academic All-District and Academic All-Big 12 honors this season.

Owens has produced one of the most dominant defensive seasons in Texas Tech history where he has established a new program single-season record with 75 blocks along with the single-game record with eight blocks against Memphis. A graduate transfer in his first season with the Red Raiders, Owens is averaging 8.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game going into the postseason. He recorded a career-high with 14 rebounds in the win over Iowa State on Saturday where he also added to his program block record with three more. He’s now had 13 games with three or more blocks, including having three blocks in the final three games of the regular season and leads the team by shooting 59.9 percent from the field.

Mooney and Owens have helped Texas Tech to lead the nation by limiting teams to 36.8 percent shooting from the field. The team is second nationally by holding opponents to only 58.6 points per game, are 17th with 4.9 blocks per game and lead the Big 12 with a plus-3.3 turnover margin. The duo of graduate transfers join Zhaire Smith as the only players in program history to earn Big 12 All-Defensive Team honors.

Beard has now earned conference awards in three of the past four years after being named the Sun Belt Conference of the Year after leading Little Rock to a 30-5 record in 2016 before taking over as the Red Raider coach and earning the Big 12 Coach of the Year honor the past two seasons. He’s currently 101-34 as an NCAA Division I head coach and has a 242-79 record during his career leading teams at Fort Scott Community College, Seminole State, the South Carolina Warriors (ABA), McMurry University, Angelo State, Little Rock and Tech.

Barry Brown, Jr. (K-State) was named Defensive Player of the Year while Dedric Lawson (Kansas) was voted Newcomer of the Year and Jaxson Hayes (Texas) captured Freshman of the Year. Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State) picked up the Sixth Man Award and Kristian Doolittle (Oklahoma) was voted as the Most Improved Player, a new award presented by the Conference.

 

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