Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: Um, Jarrett Culver. Like we don’t even need to discuss this right? 29 points on 10 of 17 from the floor, 3 of 5 from the three-point line, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, a steal, a block, and just 1 turnover. I don’t see how you can be better than that.
Defender of the Game: How do you choose between a guy that had 5 steals (Mooney) and a guy that had 5 blocks (Owens)? You give the award to the one guy that’s not going to get another award. Tariq Owens was terrific, on not just the defensive levels. Owens was a presence defensively, blocking 5 shits and just causing havoc. He was great and helped bolster a defense that allowed just 37% of their shots in Northern Kentucky.
Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: Matt Mooney was a bit careless with the ball, had 3 turnovers in the first half and 5 for the game, but Mooney scored 9 points, had 8 assists, 5 steals, and 3 rebounds. The 8 assists and 5 turnovers are so intertwined, he tries things that don’t always work, but when they do they can be pretty spectacular.
- That was fun. I didn’t get to watch until later Friday night, but I already knew the result because I can’t help myself. Things were tight in the first half and the reasons weren’t anything that wasn’t obvious: free throws and turnovers. Those ended by the time the second half was rolling and the better team won.
- Texas Tech dominated the paint. Like absolutely dominated. They made 16 of 17 shots at the rim and all 3 of their dunks. So that’s 19 of 20 shots at or near the rim they made and Northern Kentucky physically just didn’t have an answer for anyone, particularly Jarrett Culver, who was 6 of 6 at the rim. In fact, Culver was 6 of 6 at the rim and 1 of 6 in that mid-range area, but 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. It was either completely inside or from outside that worked for Culver and nothing really in-between.
- I think that maybe the real story here is that Texas Tech had UNK completely flustered offensively. The Norse made only 37% of their shots, including just 23% from beyond the arc. And that’s for the game, the defense was relentless because they shot 37% in both halves, just not able to get anything started in any way. Northern Kentucky’s best player, Drew McDonald, was a walking double-double and he scored 5 points and had 6 rebounds and Beard didn’t necessarily put a big man on this power forward, there were many opportunities that part of Beard’s plan was to have Mooney guard him, who is more than strong enough to body him inside, and then help would come forcing McDonald to pass the ball out or into a bad shot. When we talk about Mooney’s value and how it really shouldn’t be diminished after this year, his defensive ability is really something that is unique and special and versatile.
- I thought that Brandone Francis’ game was pretty terrific, he was in control and really confident in his shots, hitting 2 three-point shots, grabbing 3 boards, and dishing out an assist in 29 minutes. Not high volume, but as the Big 12 Conference Tournament played out, Beard has really leaned on Francis from a minutes perspective and he’s produced more than he hasn’t. When Francis is confident, he’s a terrific all-around player.
- This was a rare game of Davide Moretti not being able to hit the broadside of a barn, missing all 4 of his three-point attempts, but he still contributed with 10 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, and just 1 turnover. It was a quiet game and Moretti has been so good for what seems like 6 weeks or a month, he was due for a not great game, but he still found a way to contribute.
- Owens is such a unique and weird player, unique is really the best way to describe him as he not necessarily imposing physically, but his length and ability to jump affects so many things. Something happened during the course of the year, which is that Owens has gotten so much better at that mid-range 2-point jumper. He doesn’t take a ton of them, but enough to keep defenses honest and that’s opened up his game significantly.
- The star of the game was obviously Culver who has just made himself an absolute beast on the offensive end of the court, being able to get to the basket almost at will is significant and UNK just didn’t have a player that could guard him.
- We’re this far into this thing and don’t want to forget about the contributions of Norense Odiase, Deshawn Corprew, and Kyler Edwards. Odiase was pretty terrific early, but match-ups didn’t dictate a ton of time for him. Corprew probably could have gotten a few more minutes, but Beard loves and trusts Francis so much, that’s essentially who he’s deciding between. I’m somewhat surprised that Edwards got 17 minutes, he’s somewhat struggled with his shot and his minutes have been somewhat inconsistent. He had 15 minutes against WVU, but only had 6 against Iowa State in the conference finale, 5 minutes against the blowout win against Texas, and only 11 in the blowout win against TCU. I think he may be close to the freshman wall.
- Head coach Chris Beard:
For our guys, we came here, it’s a four team tournament. We’re trying to win two games in three days. The first game of the tournament is always the toughest. Just really proud of our guys tonight and our team effort. I thought we won this game as a team.
There was also this very important exchange between Beard and Moretti, Beard is asking the question:
Q. I have a question for Morretti. I noticed you back there and got a glass of water and didn’t get ice. I’ve always wondered, I went to Europe and what’s the whole idea of no ice?
DAVIDE MORETTI: Well, the water is already cold, so I don’t need any other ice to get it colder (laughter).
- Buffalo is up next on Sunday, 5:10 p.m. CST, game on TNT.