Post Game Thoughts: Texas Tech 75, Gonzaga 69

Final. Four.

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Game Recap

Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: I’m going to go with Matt Mooney here, but I mean, Texas Tech just made the Final Four so feel free to argue about something. Mooney was so locked in and I thought that he was more than a role player last night. He scored 11 of his 17 in the first half, making 6 of 12, had 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 3 turnovers for the game. A huge effort

Defender of the Game: Tariq Owens. The blocks. The steal. The rebounds. Just so good and I felt like he was in a bit of foul trouble the second half. Think about how Chris Beard isn’t one of those coaches who immediately pulls a guy who has 3 fouls. Beard trusted Owens and Owens blocks a ding-dong three-point shot by one of the best players in the country, Rui Hachimura, and saves the ball for the possession down the court.

Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: Jarrett Culver gets the nod here, not a very good shooting game at all, only 5 of 19 from the floor, but grabbed 5 rebounds, had 2 assists, 3 steals, and 3 turnovers. He was 3 of 10 in the first half, and 2 of 8 in the second half (it’s difficult to tell looking at ESPN’s shot chart because I know that 10 + 8 does not equal 19). Regardless, Culver wasn’t bad from a mid-range perspective, he was bad at the rim last night, making only 1 of 6 and he obviously missed 6 of 8 from the three-point line. Still, a terrific performance, to get 19 on a bad night, while making 7 of 8 from the free-throw line, is terrific.

Game Notes:

  • Texas Tech is going to the Final Four. Go ahead and say it out-loud because it is absolutely true. Texas Tech is one of the best four teams in the nation and according to lots of advanced stats and experts, Gonzaga is one of the best teams in the nation. And they are. Texas Tech went punch for punch with Gonzaga and came out on top.
  • The key against Gonzaga was that the Red Raiders allowed the Bulldogs to make 50% of their shots in the first half, including 36% of their three-point shots. That’s basically season averages for Gonzaga. In the second half, those figures dropped precipitously, as the Texas Tech defense clamped down. Gonzaga only made 37% of their shots in the second half and 20% of their three-point shots. And these things tend to get into your head, but Gonzaga is normally a very good free throw shooting, they made 88% in the first half, only made 63% in the second. Also credit to Texas Tech for not sending Gonzaga to the line more often.
  • The funny thing is that I think that Gonzaga could have thrown the ball in the post on every possession and I think they would have made a bucket or gotten a foul, but that’s not what happened, Texas Tech makes it difficult and we talked the last time about how it is very difficult to get a bunch of college aged guys to implement a plan.
  • Want to know who helped Texas Tech get four three-point shots? Perkins, the Gonzaga point guard, failed to close out on 4 different three-point shots: 1) in the first half, Perkins was on Francis on the wing and he nailed it; 2) in the second half, Perkins got caught up in a screen and just didn’t fight to close out on Kyler Edwards; and 3) & 4) Perkins didn’t close out on the very late Moretti three-point buckets, which were absolutely huge. Perkins didn’t fight across a screen and just didn’t cover Moretti closely on the second one. Not only was Perkins responsible for the technical foul on the reach across the out of bounds line on the throw-in, but not closing out ended up being a huge deal for 4 of the 9 three-point makes for the Red Raiders.
  • For me, it felt like Gonzaga was in the driver’s seat until there was about 14 minutes in the second half. I mean, these two teams were trading punches, but I felt that Texas Tech was in control the last 14 or 13 minutes in the second half, Gonzaga was playing catch-up and never had an answer for the Texas Tech offense.
  • In a lot of ways, Texas Tech shouldn’t have won this game. They were out-rebounded by 8, 29-37. Gonzaga, who likes to run, had 19 fast break points compared to just 5 for Texas Tech. Maybe the biggest difference for these two teams is that Gonzaga had absolutely no help from their bench, they had 3 points total from their bench with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 turnover. Meanwhile Texas Tech had 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks and no turnovers from the bench mob of Kyler Edwards, Brandone Francis and Deshawn Corprew.
  • Need to talk about how terrific Moretti was last night, making 4 of 9 from the floor, including those 2 huge three-point buckets, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds, and 4 turnovers. Not the best game handling the ball, but making buckets was what this team needed from Moretti. I also can’t say enough about how much I love watching Norense Odiase have success. He only scored 4 points and only grabbed 1 rebound, but he’s the epitome of what Beard can transform a player into if given enough time.
  • Head coach Chris Beard:

    Q. Congratulations. I asked those guys that, and I know you’ve talked about it a lot, but would you trade in some grinders for, you know, the three top McDonald’s All-Americans? Seems like you might be more comfortable with this kind of player?
    CHRIS BEARD: It’s like when I go to Grandy’s, do I want double mashed potatoes or mashed potatoes and corn? I want both. So we would love to have All-Americans and turn ’em into grinders. I think they could play more games like today.

    I’ll say this about our guys: Kind of the story, not 5-star guys, but really good players. We’ve got the MVP of the Big 12 conference. Matt, Moro and Tariq were on the All-Tournament team. And our journey has been special, but there have been a few pivotal parts, our closed door scrimmage we can’t talk about was against Houston and Coach Sampson has been to Final Fours and won championships and he grabbed me and he goes, Chris, you guys are really good, your new pieces, you guys are really good and you can compete for a 12 championship. You hear that and then we went to play Duke in Madison Square Garden, and right after the game in the handshake line and in the hallway Coach K had some great things about our team. What a heavyweight battle. You guys are really good. Good luck this season. Then he wrote me a letter and then we played Memphis and Miami and Rick Pitino was at the game and he talked to our players in the locker room after the game and he said, I’ve had teams less talented than you guys make it to the Final Four. It’s about the intangibles and the things you guys stand for. Bill Self in our league thought we were good enough to make a run in this tournament.

    We don’t mind the underdog chip on the shoulder part of our story, but I think you disrespect our players a little bit. We got really good college players and I think we’re one of the best teams in the country this year.

  • And this was a pretty funny/awesome exchange too:

    Q. Brandone and Matt, a lot of people believed this would be a low-scoring and slow game, but it was actually very fast-paced. How did you use tempo to your advantage?
    BRANDONE FRANCIS: I think Gonzaga made us play like that. They were shooting open threes in transition and that’s not how be play. We were trying to stay to their pace, but I feel like in the second half we slowed the pace down a little bit and played to our game and I’m just glad we came out with a victory.

    MATT MOONEY: I think, you know, they got us playing their type of basketball in the first half and at halftime we just wanted to slow it down a little bit. We don’t want to play slow, you know, but we want to control the tempo and take shots and play March basketball. In the second half we were able to do that.

    CHRIS BEARD: Thank you for saying that, Matt. The slow stuff is killing us in recruiting.

    MATT MOONEY: We don’t play slow. Just win.

  • Texas Tech will play the winner of Duke and Michigan State.



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