After a rough first half, the Texas Tech men’s basketball team defeated Northern Kentucky, 72-57, on Friday, March 22, in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Red Raiders are now 1-1 in the postseason and 1-0 in the NCAA tournament. The win also boosts team’s overall record to 27-6 on the year.
Tech started the NCAA tournament with the same starters as the regular season — sophomore guard Jarrett Culver, sophomore guard Davide Moretti, redshirt senior center Norense Odiase, graduate student forward Tariq Owens and graduate student guard Matt Mooney.
After starting the game with a 6-0 lead, Northern Kentucky tossed in two free throws and a two-pointer to get two points closer to Tech. The Red Raiders had a chance to extend its lead when Culver stepped to the line for two free throws, but he missed both of them.
With frustrations running high, the ball came loose and Moretti threw the ball back into play, right to a Northern Kentucky player. Odiase also had a chance to get two free throws but missed them both, keeping the score close.
Northern Kentucky’s offense kicked up and shot a three-point to get a 13-12 lead over the Red Raiders for a quick minute. Redshirt senior guard Brandone Francis pulled Tech ahead with a three-pointer and Owens extended the lead with two more points.
After Culver and Odiase missed a free throw, Moretti also missed a free throw. Moretti has only missed four this year, according to sports-reference.com.
Owens opened up the second half with a dunk, followed by a Mooney three-pointer. Owens put in another two-points to drag the Red Raiders up to a 10-point lead.
The team’s offense shot up, going on a 6-0 run to open the second half.
Culver put another three-pointer in to push the team to 13-point lead. Owens' constient defense continued when he blocked a shot from Northern Kentucky.
With less than five minutes left in the game, the Red Raiders made a 10-0 run and won the game, 72-57.
Culver led the first half with 12 points while Odiase and Owens led with one rebound each. Mooney had the most assists in the first half with four while Culver and Moretti had two a piece. The only block of the first half belonged to Owens while Mooney stole three balls away from Northern Kentucky, according to ESPN.
Culver finished the game with a near triple-double, recording 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, according to ESPN. Owens was the closests player to Culver, scoring 12 points. Owens also blocked the most shots with five and only made two turnovers.
Mooney had one more assist than Culver, earning eight but also made the most turnovers with five, according to ESPN. The team had 11 turnovers in the game while Northern Kentucky had 17.
The Red Raiders now advance to the second round of March Madness and will play the winner of the Buffalo and Arizona State on Sunday.