Mooney, defense key Red Raiders
Guard, stingy scheme put Texas Tech in 1st title game
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.