Texas Tech Defense Shines for the Win Against Michigan State

Texas Tech Defense Shines for the Win Against Michigan State

The Texas Tech Red Raiders managed to put in a strong team effort to come out with the 61-51 win against the Michigan State Spartans to close out the second to last game of the NCAA tournament.

Defense, Defense, Defense

What a night for college basketball defense. First off, just moments before this game began we had just concluded Virginia and Auburn, and that was a showcase of defensive play in its own right. Come time for this game to start, we had another stellar defensive effort…however this time I found it to be in favor of Texas Tech.

Entering this game, Texas Tech had the third best scoring defense rating in the country (compared to MI State being ranked 33). The shooting defense this team administers is nightmarish for your average shooter. Physical transitional defense and smart decision making lead to Texas Tech holding the Spartans to a collective 31.9% field goal percentage.

Along with the smothering shooting defense from the Red Raiders, a few key blocks and steals lead to points at crucial moments of the game that swung in Texas Techs favor. MI State played a great game, but there core players fell short of their offensive predictions.

Matt Mooney Had A Great Night

Leading the game in scoring was transfer-guard Matt Mooney. Mooney led the game with 22 points (8-of-16 Field Goal%), with three rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and only 1 turnover. Hitting four of his eight three-point attempts (he went on a tear in the second half scoring 3 consecutive three-pointers to give Texas its largest lead of the night of 13 points… highlights here). Mooney displayed great athleticism and finesse under the basket as well, stepping up for his team in one of the biggest games of his life. He also played excellent defense on Michigan State star Cassius Winston which is no easy feat.

Photo Credit: OCRegister.com

Jarrett Culver Was Cold Until the Final Moments

My top pick to make the biggest impact for Texas Tech this weekend had a slow start to his night. Finishing with ten points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assist, shooting a poor 3-for-12 from the field, Culver never really found his groove until the final two minutes.

Photo Credit: Caller.com

A top-draft prospect in his own right, Culver entered the second half shooting 0-for-6 from the field. Furthermore, six of his ten points came in the final 2:30 minutes of play. Yet, two key plays helped his team secure the victory. He had a beautiful three go in with less than a minute left to put Texas Tech up by 7 points and all but end the game. While he may not have had the best night, he still finds himself towards the top of draft boards, and a big performance Monday night during the championship should just about etch that in stone. (He’s a special talent)

Cassius Winston Was Smothered By Defense

Lastly, the player whom I believed was going to make the biggest difference this weekend ended up not doing so. Arguably the country’s top point guard, time and time again Winston has helped Michigan State succeed. Finishing with 16 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists with four turnovers, he had some decent numbers on the surface. Unfortunately, he only managed to make 4-of-16 from the field (although a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line), with a poor assist to turnover ratio.

Photo Credit: JapanTimes.com

There is a lot of discussion on whether Winston should enter into the 2019 NBA draft or not and it is a difficult call. Being a junior at MI State, he could seriously benefit from one more season as a Spartan. I believe he could grow physically and his basketball IQ could heavily benefit from one more year. Having said that, he has played exceptionally well late-season this year, especially during the tournament, and his stock is much, much higher than it was beginning the season. Many believe its possible he could get drafted in the second round. It’s a risk/reward scenario that Winston will have to figure out during the off-season.

Photo Credit: WXYZ.com

Overall, it was a very good game. To be honest, this has been a tournament filled with exciting games. Texas Tech’s defense, along with a great step-up performance from Mooney, and a great bench performance, led the Red Raiders to clinching the victory.

The Virginia Cavaliers will face the Texas Tech Red Raiders Monday, April 8th at 9:20pm EST on CBS.

Cover Photo Credit: KSTP.com

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