MINNEAPOLIS — For many who thought Texas Tech solely performs protection, it’s time to satisfy Matt Mooney.
Whereas the Crimson Raiders have been locking down Michigan State on one finish, the graduate switch taking pictures guard was raining in 3s on the opposite, lifting Tech one win away from the title Saturday evening with a 61-51 victory over the Spartans within the Remaining 4.
Mooney matched his season-high with 22 factors, together with three 3-pointers over the span of three minutes to offer Texas Tech a 13-point lead halfway via the second half that, beneath these circumstances, was an excessive amount of to beat.
Mooney’s first two pictures within the stretch capped a 5-for-5 sizzling streak by Texas Tech that stood as the sport’s solely true blast of offense.
The remainder of the sport was a defensive slog, crammed with air balls, blocked pictures and clogged-up passing lanes. It was, to place it Texas Tech’s means, completely ugly.
The Crimson Raiders (31-6) transfer onto Monday’s remaining to face Virginia, a 63-62 winner over Auburn within the earlier sport.
Michigan State (32-7) leaves coach Tom Izzo’s eighth Remaining 4 with its seventh loss — the 2000 title remains to be the one time the Spartans have taken all of it the best way beneath their veteran coach.
However they didn’t go away simply.
After Mooney put them down by a baker’s dozen halfway via the half, the Spartans trimmed it to three. Matt McQuaid had a wide-open look from the nook — one of many only a few on this evening — to tie with 1:50 left, however the ball rimmed out and the Crimson Raiders pulled away.
Jarrett Culver (10 factors, 5 boards) made one free throw on the subsequent journey down, then Norense Odiase swiped the ball from MSU’s Xavier Tillman — one in all Tech’s 4 steals on the evening — and the Crimson Raiders labored the ball to Culver, who made his solely Three to push the result in 58-51 and begin the celebration.
The protection that led the nation in effectivity and held groups to beneath 37% taking pictures — second greatest within the county — held Michigan State to 31.9% from the ground.
Most tellingly, it stymied Huge Ten participant of the 12 months Cassius Winston. Sure, he led the Spartans with 16 factors, nevertheless it got here on 4-for-16 taking pictures, and he didn’t rating his first second-half factors till greater than 10 minutes had elapsed — lengthy after Mooney put this sport out of attain.