Mooney, de­fense key Red Raiders

Guard, stingy scheme put Texas Tech in 1st ti­tle game

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FINAL FOUR - By Ed­die Pells

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MIN­NEAPO­LIS — For those who thought Texas Tech only plays de­fense, it’s time to meet Matt Mooney.

While the Red Raiders were lock­ing down Michi­gan State on one end, the grad­u­ate trans­fer shoot­ing guard was rain­ing in 3-point­ers on the other to help Texas Tech ad­vance to its first na­tional ti­tle game with a 61-51 vic­tory over the sec­ond-seeded Spar­tans on Satur­day in the Fi­nal Four.

Mooney matched his sea­son-high with 22 points, in­clud­ing three 3-point­ers over the span of 3 min­utes to give No. 3 seed Texas Tech a 13-point lead mid­way through the sec­ond half that, un­der th­ese cir­cum­stances, was too much to over­come.

Mooney’s first two shots in the stretch capped a 5-for-5 hot streak by Texas Tech (31-6) that stood as the game’s only true blast of of­fense.

Lead­ing scorer Jar­rett Cul­ver was quiet for much of the night, but he scored six straight points to keep the Red Raiders in con­trol af­ter the Spar­tans had cut the 13-point deficit to 52-51 with 2:54 left.

Texas Tech shot 56 per­cent af­ter half­time, while its trade­mark de­fen­sive edge locked down on Michi­gan State. The Spar­tans shot just 32 per­cent, in­clud­ing 8 of 24 in the sec­ond half.

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