Red Raiders facing Virginia in NCAA Championship

Red Raiders facing Virginia in NCAA Championship
NCAA championship trophy (Source: Devin Ward, KCBD)

Provided by Texas Tech Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota – Texas Tech has fought to become a part of the fight. Now the Red Raiders look to win it all.

The Red Raiders (31-6) and Virginia (34-3) will play in the 2019 NCAA championship game at 8:20 p.m. on Monday at the U.S. Bank Stadium for the national championship. Tech will compete to become only the second team from the state of Texas to win the national championship and the first to win it since Texas Western won the title in 1966. Tech, which advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history last season, is now 8-1 in the tournament the past two seasons and enter the championship game having limited its five opponents this year to 58.8 points per game and to 36.8 percent shooting. In its 94th season, the program is in its first championship game after going through Northern Kentucky, Buffalo, Michigan, Gonzaga and Michigan State to set up the Monday night matchup against Virginia. The Cavaliers will be the second No. 1 seed that Tech will face after they advanced as the South Region’s top seed before knocking off Auburn with a 63-62 win in the first national semifinal on Saturday. Tech and Virginia are both making their championship game debut and the Red Raiders are looking to become the first Big 12 Conference team to win the national title since Kansas won it in 2008.

Virginia advanced with a 63-62 win over Auburn in the first national semifinal with Kyle Guy making three free-throws in the final second of the game. The Cavaliers were down by four with 17 seconds remaining in the game before the comeback that ended the Tigers season at 30-10. Ty Jerome led Virginia with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Guy had 15 including going 3-for-3 at the free-throw line with all three coming with 0.6 seconds on the clock. The Cavaliers, who lead the nation by limiting opponents to 55.5 points per game, are in the national final after going through Gardner-Webb, Oklahoma, Oregon, Purdue and Auburn in the tournament.

STAT RANKINGS: Texas Tech enters national final leading in the nation by limiting opponents to a 36.8 shooting percentage, is third in the country with teams scoring only 58.8 points per game and seventh with a 13.4 scoring margin and 183 total blocks through 37 games. The Red Raider defense ranks 10th by holding teams to 29.3 percent on 3-pointers and is 19th with a 3.4 turnover margin advantage. Offensively, Tech is shooting 47.0 percent which is 46th nationally and was the second best within the Big 12 Conference. Individually, Davide Moretti ranks second in the nation at 92.2 percent at the free-throw line where he is 95 of 103 in his sophomore season while Tariq Owens has the seventh most blocks in the nation with 91 after having three against Michigan State and has the 12th-best shots-per-game average at 2.50. Jarrett Culver ranks second from the Big 12 with his 18.6 points per game and Matt Mooney was also second in the conference with 1.86 steals per game. With 249 field goals made, Culver ranks second from the conference and is 22nd nationally in made shots and 35th with 689 total points.

SEASON AWARDS

Chris Beard: Big 12 Coach of the Year; USBWA District Coach of the Year

Jarrett Culver: Big 12 Player of the Year, John R. Wooden Award Finalist, Jerry West Award Finalist, AP All-America 2nd Team; USBWA All-America 2nd Team, Sporting News All-America 2nd Team, All-Big 12 First-Team, NABC All-District, 3-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Big 12 All-Academic Team

Matt Mooney: All-Big 12 Second Team, All-Big 12 Newcomer Team, All-Big 12 Defensive Team

Davide Moretti: All-Big 12 Third-Team, CoSIDA Academic All-District, Academic All-Big 12

Tariq Owens: All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, All-Big 12 Defensive Team, Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Semifinalist

Andrew Sorrells, Avery Benson, Parker Hicks, Norense Odiase, Malik Ondigo: Academic All-Big 12

COACH NOTES: Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard has been named a Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year Finalist and is now 76-30 in three seasons as the Red Raider coach. Beard was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year this season after earning the Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year last season and leading the program to its first-ever NCAA Elite Eight appearance in his second year. Under Beard, Tech is 50-5 at home and has secured a third seed in the national tournament in back-to-back seasons. Beard is 9-2 in the NCAA tournament after leading the Red Raiders to an 8-1 record in the tournament the past two years and also guiding Little Rock to an 85-83 first-round win over Purdue on March 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. Beard is 3-0 in first-round games at the tournament, 2-1 in the second round and 2-0 in the Sweet 16, 1-1 in the Elite Eight, 1-0 in the Final Four and is making his first national final appearance.

30-WIN MILESTONE: Texas Tech has set the program’s all-time wins record at 31 after breaking the 30-win mark that was achieved in the 1995-96 season… The Red Raiders have now won 25 games or more four times in program history… The program also won 25 games in the 1975-76 season and set the program record with 30 wins in the 1995-96 season. Tech reached the 20-win milestone with its victory over Oklahoma State and has now recorded 20 wins in a season 13 times in program history. The team went 27-10 last season and has back-to-back 20-win years for the first time since 2003-04 and 2004-05 under head coach Bob Knight. We are in the midst of the winningest two years span in program history.

ELITE DEFENSE: Texas Tech has allowed only five opponents to score over 70 points and has limited 13 to under 55 points after holding Michigan State to 51 points and 31.9 percent shooting. Gonzaga was held under 70 points for only the fourth time this season by the Red Raiders in the Elite Eight after shooting 42.4 percent after shooting 52.6 percent for the season. Michigan was limited to a season-low 44 points and it was the 22nd double-digit win by the Red Raiders, while Buffalo averaged 84.4 points on the season and was limited to a season-low 58 in the second round where it also shot 10 percent lower than its season average. Tech is limiting its opponents to 36.4 percent shooting from the field and to 24.6 percent on 3-pointers in the tournament. In the regular season, Texas was held to 29.6 percent shooting in Tech’s home finale which made them the sixth opponent this season to shoot under 30 percent, while NKU was held to 37.1 percent, Buffalo to 36.5 and Michigan to 32.7 percent to give the Red Raiders 23 opponents to shoot under 40 percent this season. The Wolverines were held to 1-for-19 on 3-pointers against the Tech defense, Gonzaga went 7-for-26 and Michigan State was only 7-for-24 from beyond the arc.

FAST STARTS: Tech has led at halftime by double-digits in eight of its last 16 games: at TCU (+18), Oklahoma State (+10), Kansas (+25), Baylor (+13), at Oklahoma State (+19), at Oklahoma (+11), West Virginia (+15) and TCU (+16). The only discrepancies during the stretch is Michigan State (+2), Gonzaga (-2), Michigan (+8), Buffalo (+8), Norse (+4), vs. WVU (-9), Iowa State (-2), Texas (+9).

MAINTAINING POSSESSION: Texas Tech has a plus-4.2 turnover margin advantage during the NCAA Tournament after having only seven against Michigan State, eight against Michigan and forcing NKU to commit 17 turnovers and Buffalo 16. The Spartans had 11 turnovers on Saturday in the semifinal. Gonzaga committed 16 turnovers in a game with the Red Raiders having 13 in the Elite Eight matchup. The Red Raiders have forced 74 turnovers by their opponents during those games and have only lost 53 possessions during the tournament. For the season, TTU has a plus-3.4 turnover margin advantage which was second in the Big 12 and is 22nd nationally. Tech committed only nine turnovers at ISU, had seven against Texas and OSU and limited turnovers to eight against KU during a late-season stretch of wins. The team has 13 games with single-digit turnovers this season and had a season-low six turnovers in the non-conference win over Northern Colorado. Tech is on a streak of 17 straight games where it has not committed more turnovers than its opponents.

PLAYER NOTES: Jarrett Culver was named the first Big 12 Conference Player of the Year in program history and has also earned AP, NABC, USBWA and Sporting News All-America honors in a season where he is averaging 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game after scoring 10 in the win over Michigan State. He was named the West Region Most Outstanding Player after averaging 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.5 assist per game in the four tournament games leading into the Final Four and is now averaging 19.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in the tournament. A sophomore from Lubbock, Culver led Tech with 19 points and had five rebounds in the win over Gonzaga after coming off a 22-point performance against Michigan where he hit nine shots and was 4-for-4 at the free-throw line. He started the NCAA Tournament by going off for 29 points, eight rebounds and a career-high eight assists in the first-round win over Northern Kentucky and then recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds against Buffalo. He enters the national championship game having scored 1,104 career points after coming into the national postseason having recorded a career-high 31 in the regular-season finale at Iowa State and then his fourth double-double of the season with 26 points and 10 rebounds in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals against West Virginia. Culver averaged 7.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in last year’s NCAA Elite Eight run, including scoring 11 points against Florida and Villanova. Culver had 11 points and nine rebounds against Florida to help propel the team to the Sweet 16 as a freshman. This season, he was 10-for-17 from the field with three 3-pointers and also knocked down six free throws to help knock off the Norse in the first-round matchup before adding five assists to his double-double against the Bulls. Culver is the first player to reach 1,000 points as a freshman-sophomore in program history and is the 42nd player in program history to reach the milestone and is currently 31st on the all-time scoring list. His 17.8 points per game in Big 12 play ranked as the program’s fifth most. Culver was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Week three times this season after he earned the award following his 31 points against ISU that followed 16 points and seven rebounds against Texas in the home finale. He won his second Big 12 weekly honor after going for 26 points against Kansas and followed it by recording his third double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Oklahoma State. Culver has led the team in scoring in 24 of 37 games and finished the conference campaign averaging 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and has 57 assists. Culver is a finalist for the Jerry West Award finalist and John R. Wooden Award along with being on the Oscar Robertson Trophy and Lute Olson Award watch lists. He has scored in double figures in 36 of 37 games and is shooting 47.1 percent from the field overall and was 44.6 percent in Big 12 play. Culver had recorded a previous career-high with 30 points against Abilene Christian on Dec. 20 where he went 12-for-13 from the field and hit four 3-pointers. He was named the Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time this season after the performance and followed it by going to New York and scoring 25 points against Duke.

Davide Moretti drilled two crucial 3-pointers late in the win over Gonzaga where he finished with 12 points to help lead the Red Raiders to the Final Four. He had five points in the win over Michigan State that ended a double-digit scoring streak of 11 straight games. Moretti is currently averaging 10.6 points with six 3-pointers and is 11-for-13 at the free-throw line in five NCAA Tournament games. He was named an All-Big 12 Conference Third Team selection as one of the top shooters in the nation and is currently second in the country by shooting 92.2 percent at the free-throw line where he has gone 95 of 103 this season where is only behind Gavin Peppers who finished his season at 92.4 percent for Nicholls State. Moretti is shooting 49.8 percent from the field and is 45.8 percent on 3-pointers to go along with his free-throw percentage. A coach’s son from Italy, Moretti is averaging 11.4 points and 2.5 assists per game in his second season with the program. He scored 11 points against Buffalo after going 5-for-6 from the free-throw line following a game where he scored 10 points and had five rebounds in the win over NKU on Friday. Moretti averaged 4.8 points per game during last year’s NCAA tournament as a freshman, including scoring seven in the Sweet 16 win over Purdue before going for seven more in the loss to Villanova. He scored 20 points with four 3-pointers at Iowa State in the regular season finale at Iowa State. He hit two 3-pointers in the conference tournament quarterfinal to extend a 21-game streak of making a 3-pointer before having that streak end without one in Tulsa during the first two round. His three 3-pointers last Thursday against Michigan was the 13th time this season he’s had three or more in a game and he has now made 69 this season. He’ll come into the matchup against Virginia shooting 6-for-19 on 3-pointers and 11 of 13 at the free-throw line in the NCAA tournament. Back in the regular season, he led Texas Tech with 20 points after going 12-for-12 from the free-throw line and 2-for-2 on 3-pointers at Oklahoma State and followed it by scoring 15 points at TCU with three more 3-pointers. Moretti, who averaged 13.2 points and 2.7 assists in conference play, has made a 3-pointer in 31 of 37 games this season for the Red Raiders. Moretti recorded a career-high 21 points against Arkansas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge after going 6-for-9 from the field with three 3-pointers. He shot 53.5 percent on 3-pointers in conference play and is 70-for-153 from beyond the arc this season and has made 96 3-pointers in his career. Moretti scored in double figures in 16 of 18 Big 12 games this season and now has 551 points through 74 games in his career. He has started all 37 games for the Red Raiders this season after making one start in 37 games played as a freshman. Moretti made a career-high five 3-pointers against MVSU in non-conference play and has 10 games with four more assists, including having a career-high eight assists in the win at Oklahoma State.

After losing five seniors off last season’s NCAA Elite Eight team, Texas Tech remained a veteran team through recruiting by adding graduate transfers Matt Mooney (University of South Dakota) and Tariq Owens (St. John’s) to go along with returners Norense Odiase and Brandone Francis to make up a senior class of four for the Red Raiders. Mooney was named to the All-Big 12 Second-Team, the Big 12 Newcomer Team and he and Owens were both selected for the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Owens was advanced to the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award Semifinalist Watch List. Mooney and Owens were on the original list, making TTU the only team with two members on the original list of 15.

Mooney matched a season-high by scoring 22 points in the win over Michigan State with four 3-pointers. He was named to the West Region All-Tournament team and enters the national championship game averaging 13.8 points per game along with contributing 17 assist and 13 steals through five tournament games. He helped lead the Red Raiders past Gonzaga by scoring 17 points and led the team with five assists. In the win over the Bulldogs, Mooney was 6-for-12 from the field and 4-for-4 at the free-throw line before going 8-for-16 against the Spartans. He established a new career-high with eight assists in the win over NKU in the opening round and is averaging 11.3 points, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game this season for the Red Raiders after also having 10 points against Michigan in the Sweet 16 and 11 points against Buffalo. A graduate transfer, Mooney earned Big 12 Conference Second-Team honors along with being named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team and Big 12 All-Defensive Team. He came into the first NCAA Tournament of his career after a game against WVU where he hit three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points and five assists for the second straight game. He went for 13 points, four steals and five assists in the win over Iowa State in the regular-season finale and now has a team-high 48 assists in the past 10 games. His conference season was highlighted by scoring a season-high 22 points at Texas where he was 8-for-10 from the field with three 3-pointers and scored in double-figures in 10 conference games this season. He now has three games in his collegiate career with five 3-pointers and has 43 3-pointers this season for the Red Raiders after making two against the Wolverines and one against Buffalo and NKU. His production includes 12 games with five assists or more, including seven games with six assists before his eight against the Norse in the opening round. Through the 18 conference games, he averaged 11.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 3.1 assists per game in Big 12 play. An Illinois native, Mooney started his career at Air Force before playing two seasons at South Dakota where he led his team in scoring both years. He is shooting 42.6 percent from the field this season, has scored in double figures in 22 games and leads the team with his 68 steals after having a team-leading 13 in the tournament. He’s had at least one steal in 32 of 37 games this season. Mooney transferred to Tech having recorded 1,480 points, 166 steals and 228 assists at Air Force and South Dakota. He now has 1,896 points, 234 steals and 351 assists in his collegiate career.

Owens leads Tech with 13 blocked shots in five NCAA tournament games after having three blocks to go along with seven points and four rebounds against Michigan State. He left the game momentarily with a sprained ankle but returned in the second half. Owens electrified the Tech team and fan base with a pair of huge second-half dunks and also had 10 rebounds and two blocked shots against Michigan in the Sweet 16 win and followed it with nine points, three blocks and seven rebounds in the win over Gonzaga. Owens, who is playing in his first NCAA Tournament of his career, went for 10 points and seven rebounds in the win over Buffalo after scoring 12 points with five blocked shots in the win over Northern Kentucky. He owns the single-season program record at 91. He did not have a blocked shot against the Bulls which was the first game this season without one, but he now has eight in the past three games. Owens went 4-for-5 from the field against Gonzaga and was 4-for-4 against Buffalo after going 6-for-7 from the field against the Norse. He’s currently shooting 19-for-27 (70.4 percent) in the NCAA Tournament. Back in the regular season, he had a season-high 14 rebounds in the win over Iowa State in the regular-season finale and then went for 14 points against WVU at the tournament leading into the tournament. He would record his third double-double of the season by securing 13 rebounds at TCU where he also added 12 points in Fort Worth. He secured his second double-double of the season by scoring 12 points and adding 10 rebounds in the first matchup at Kansas. An Odenton, Maryland native, he had one of his best offensive games of the season after scoring 17 points in the first matchup against TCU where he was 7-for-9 from the field, including going 2-for-2 on 3-pointers in the first matchup between the two teams. Owens is averaging 8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots going into the game against the Cavaliers. He had 43 blocks in Big 12 play and was fourth in the conference with a 60.2 shooting percentage. Owens, who led the BIG EAST in blocks the past two seasons while playing at St. John’s, established a new Texas Tech single-game record with eight blocks in the win over Memphis on Dec. 1 in Miami after starting his Red Raider career with six blocks against Incarnate Word in the season opener. He had a season-high 18 points against Southern Cal in Kansas City and recorded the team’s first double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in his program-record eight-block performance against Memphis. Owens transferred to Tech after playing his freshman season at Tennessee and then two years at St. John’s. He came to Lubbock with 179 blocked shots and now has 269 in his career.

Odiase led Tech with nine rebounds in the win over Michigan State after he had recorded his first double-double of the season with a career-high 15 rebounds and a season-high 14 points in the second-round win over Buffalo in Tulsa. He’s currently 8-for-10 from the field and has 32 rebounds through five games of the NCAA Tournament. He has made 110 career starts and played in 125 games as a Red Raider and is averaging 4.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.9 block per game in his senior season. He was 4-for-4 from the field against Buffalo and had seven of his 15 rebounds on the offensive end of the court in the second-round win. Odiase was 2-for-4 from the free-throw line against Michigan State to account for his two points to go along with his nine rebounds and two steals. The most veteran player in the program, Odiase scored the first four points in the win over NKU and also had two blocks in the first-round game. He has played in 10 NCAA tournament games and has 42 rebounds in those games. In the regular season he would record back-to-back double-digit rebounding performances with 11 rebounds at OU after having 10 against West Virginia in the regular season and then had a three-block performance against Texas to highlight his success down the stretch for the Red Raiders. Odiase also had five rebounds in the win over ISU in the regular-season finale to finish with nine conference games with five or more rebounds. He had a previous season-high nine points against the Mountaineers. The career resume boasts 588 rebounds, 621 points and 78 blocked shots in his career as a Red Raider that includes trips to the NCAA tournament in 2016, 2018 and this season. A Fort Worth native, Odiase is shooting 58.5 percent from the field this season and is 241-for-455 (53.0 percent) in his career. He had his previous career-high 13 rebound performance in the win over Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 13 after a 10-rebound game against Mississippi Valley State. Odiase scored seven points to go along with his seven rebounds against Duke after going 3-for-4 from the field and finished with 91 rebounds and 20 blocks in conference play.

Francis scored nine points in the win over Michigan State after going for six points in the win over Gonzaga with one 3-pointer. He is now averaging 6.2 points and 1.4 assists per game in his senior season where he has made at least one 3-pointer in 26 games. He had five points against Buffalo and four against Michigan leading into Monday’s final. A senior guard, he went for 12 points and four rebounds on his Senior Night after hitting two 3-pointers against Texas and followed it with two big second-half 3-pointers against ISU in the regular-season finale. A reserve in 36 of 37 games this season with an average of 23.7 minutes per game, Francis had a streak of seven straight games with a 3-pointer end at OSU in conference but comes into the national championship game with 41 3-pointers this season which is fourth on the team. A Dominican Republic native, he started his career at Florida before transferring to Lubbock where he averaged 5.1 points per game with 33 3-pointers as a junior during the Elite 8 run, including a career-high 17 points in the win over West Virginia. Francis scored 13 points in the opener against UIW and would contribute 10 points and a career-high six assists in the neutral-court win over Memphis. He has scored 417 points in 74 games in his career for the Red Raiders.

Kyler Edwards is coming off a game against Michigan State where he contributed six points after the Gonzaga contest where he scored eight points with two 3-pointers to help the Red Raiders advance. He also hit two second-half 3-pointers in the win against Buffalo in the round of 32 and had one against Michigan. He is averaging 5.3 points and 1.1 assists per game in his freshman season where he recorded a career-high six assists and added eight points in the win over OU and shot 32.4 on 3-pointers in conference play. Edwards is currently 6-for-9 on 3-pointers and is averaging 4.6 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. He scored nine points in two conference games, first in the home game against KSU and then against Iowa State before going 3-for-3 from the field for eight points in Norman. A guard from Arlington, he has scored nine or more points in eight games this season and has recorded four double-digit scoring performances. Edwards recorded a career-high 19 points against Northern Colorado where he went 7-for-7 from the field with four 3-pointers.

Deshawn Corprew is averaging 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game this season. Corprew scored five points with one 3-pointer and also had three rebounds against Buffalo before having four rebounds in the win over Michigan. In the regular season, he was 5-for-6 from the field with 12 points in the win at TCU and followed it by recording seven points and six rebounds in the win over Texas at the end of the regular season. A transfer from South Plains College, he recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds against UTRGV. Corprew, who made his only start of the season in that game against UTRGV, was 6-for-8 from the field to match a previous career-high of 13 points that he also had against Northern Colorado. Avery Benson scored a career-high five points against Baylor after recording a career-high three steals in 11 minutes against WVU, while Parker Hicks scored a career-high with five points against the Mountaineers. Hicks was 2-for-4 from the field, including hitting one of the eight 3-pointers by the Red Raiders in the 31-point win.

NEW CONFERENCE RECORD: Texas Tech established a new program record by winning 14 Big 12 games this season. The Red Raiders broke the previous mark of 11 games that was established last season and also set a new mark by winning nine conference games in a row. Before the last two seasons, Tech had recorded 10 conference wins in 2004-05, 2001-02 and 1996-97. HOME DOMINANCE: Texas Tech matched a program record by going 17-1 at home this season and is 50-5 at home under Chris Beard the past three seasons. In Big 12 play, the Red Raiders finished the year with an 8-1 record on their home court this season and are 22-5 during the Beard era. Tech is currently 93-75 in conference play and 248-90 all-time at the United Supermarkets Arena since the first game on Nov. 19, 1999.

The Red Raiders went 9-0 this season at home in non-conference play to extend a 47-game non-conference home winning streak. The Red Raiders pushed that total to 47 with a 67-64 win over Arkansas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Jan. 26. They will go into next season on a seven-game home winning streak with the only loss this season coming in a 68-64 loss to Iowa State on Jan. 16.