In what was a highly physical game, Texas Tech took out Michigan State in the 2019 NCAA Tournament Final Four Saturday night. The defense was elite on both sides and the excitement in the arena was astounding! While Texas Tech’s star, Jarrett Culver didn’t have a highlight game, Matt Mooney made up for it with great shooting all night. Cassius Winston tried his best to drag Michigan State along but just did not have enough support offensively to pull out the win.
The Red Raiders top the Spartans 61-51 and move on to their first-ever NCAA Tournament Final appearance. They will face Virginia on Monday night for a shot at the NCAA Championship.
First Half: Defense and Scoring Troubles
After a very controversial ending to game one of the Final Four, the Michigan State vs Texas Tech matchup was highly anticipated. Coming into the game, all the talk from the experts were around Texas Tech’s defense and which star players would emerge as superstars in this high stakes game. The suspects were Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech and Cassius Winston of Michigan State.
This was the first matchup between these two ball clubs EVER! Just appearing in this game was historic for both teams. Texas Tech came into Minneapolis for their first trip to the Final Four. For Michigan State, this marked the 10th time the Spartans would appear in the Final Four. The ball was tipped and the Red Raiders won the tip to begin this historic game.
After trading threes to begin the half, each team set up their defense. Sloppy turnovers would define the first few minutes of the game, and early on it was clear that this would be a grind-it-out affair. After a lackluster few minutes, Tariq Owens had a huge dunk for the Red Raiders early in the first half.
Texas Tech dunking on the Spartans early ?pic.twitter.com/KA2gzu0Rqe
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) April 7, 2019
At the under 12 media timeout, Michigan State had the lead 14-11. Matt McQuaid would lead the way for the Spartans at this point in the game, scoring 9 of the first 14 points for Michigan State.
After the media timeout, Michigan State found themselves up 16-11 after a pair of free throws from Cassius Winston. That’s when Texas Tech started to not only flex on the defensive side, but they began to flex on the offensive side. The Red Raiders would go on an 8-0 run to put themselves up 19-16 with 8:30 minutes remaining in the half. Michigan State seemed to not have an answer for Texas Tech and Matt Mooney, who finished the half with nine points. That was good for the Raiders as Jarrett Culver was nowhere to be found and had picked up his second foul of the half before the under four-minute timeout.
Just when it looked like the offense was picking up, a scoring drought hit both teams. From the 7:37 mark until the 2:09 mark in the half, not a field goal was made by either team. That is until Matt Mooney worked his way inside for a mid-range jumper. Texas Tech responded on the defensive end by forcing a shot clock violation. The defense was truly remarkable by both teams and was one of the most defense dominant halves of the season. The offensive play was good, but the defense was just truly overwhelming.
The Spartans continued to go on a scoring drought until Cassius Winston hit a big three with 1:09 to go in the half. After an unsuccessful possession on offense for the Red Raiders, Michigan State took a timeout with 20.4 seconds left to set up a final play. Xavier Tillman of Michigan State was able to get a look at the basket, but Tariq Owens sent it back with AUTHORITY to end the half!
Tariq Owens is hosting a block party and Michigan State is invited. pic.twitter.com/7L12uiS9k8
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 7, 2019
Second Half: Injuries and Thrilling Plays
The offense was immediately more productive for both sides as they came out for the second half. However, the intense defense was still there for both sides. The play was fluid and more effortless than the first half and each team was trading shots. Matt Mooney kept his excellent play up for the Red Raiders, and Cassius Winston had found his groove as well for the Spartans.
It was at the 14:43 mark that things looked like they were about to change. With Texas Tech leading 32-29, Tariq Owens went up for a block, and while he got it, he came down awkwardly on his ankle.
Tariq Owens injury video: lands on teammates foot causing lateral ankle sprain as well as hyperextending his right knee as well. I’d be shocked if he returned tonight. But it is the final four. He was able to walk off court with limp. #finalfour2019 pic.twitter.com/0yZlb3FMZf
— #ReiffReport (@ReiffReport) April 7, 2019
However, the injury would be followed by an 8-2 run by the Red Raiders. They were up by 9 with 12:11 left in the game after a big three by Matt Mooney. The momentum looked to be swinging Texas Tech’s way. After another huge three by Matt Mooney just a minute later, Chris Beard’s squad would be up 45-33 at the under 12 media timeout. Jarrett Culver still had not hit his first field goal by this point.
Michigan State kept responding to the onslaught by Texas Tech, and it seemed that Sparty was going to be able to claw their way back into the game. However, the Red Raiders just kept shooting and kept hitting shots. After a three from Cassius Winston to bring the score to 48-38, Texas Tech, Jarrett Culver responded with his first basket of the game with just under 9 minutes to go in the game.
As the eight-minute mark approached, Tariq Owens emerged from the tunnel sprinting! He had taped his ankle up, put on a fresh new pair of shoes and was ready to come out and play for the Red Raiders, but instead of a run for Tech, Michigan State went off. An 8-2 run by the Spartans made the deficit just seven points. That run extended to a 12-4 run which Matt McQuaid tweaked his ankle during.
After a very long scoring drought for both teams yet again, over four minutes long, Aaron Henry hit a layup to bring the Spartans to within one point! The score was 52-51 and it seemed that Tom Izzo had masterminded a plan to bring his Spartans back into the game. With 9:20 to go in the game, the deficit was 13 points, and in a matter of fewer than seven minutes, the deficit was just one. Truly remarkable! Then Cassius Winston picked up his fourth foul and gave Texas Tech possession. Each team would go on to brick a couple of shots each until Jarrett Culver went to the free throw line with 1:32 to go in the game. He hit 1 of 2 shots and put the Texas Tech lead to four points.
Xavier Tillman would turn the ball over on the next possession and with 1:01 left in the game, leading to a Jarrett Culver DAGGER to push the lead to seven points!
Jarrett Culver with a DAGGER! pic.twitter.com/scpCMQpLp6
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 7, 2019
The Red Raiders would hold on in the final minute of the game to pull off the win against Tom Izzo’s team. Texas Tech was led in scoring by Matt Mooney with 22 points while the Spartans were led by Cassius Winston who had 16 points. Tech held Michigan State to a season-low in field goal percentage and three-point percentage at 31.9% and 29.2% respectively.