Senior guard Matt Mooney led the Red Raiders to a 61–51 win over the Spartans on Saturday night in Minneapolis.

By Emily Caron
April 06, 2019

Texas Tech secured a trip to its first national championship game in program history on Saturday night after taking down Michigan State, 61–51, in a defensive slugfest in Minneapolis.

Senior guard Matt Mooney led Texas Tech two a two-point edge at halftime after close first half contest in Saturday's second Final Four contest.

Mooney's nine first-half points led the Red Raiders through a slow first half offensively as they locked down on defense. Senior forward Tariq Owens followed with seven–two of which came off of a big dunk early in the contest–and a monster block to send Texas Tech into the half with the two-point lead.

Sophomore guard Jarrett Culver was held to just one point for Texas Tech in the first half after going 0-for-6 to start the game and continued to struggle against the Spartans defense well into the second. 

Senior guard Matt McQuaid attempted to lead the Spartans in an ealry second-half rally with a steal for a three just under three minutes after play resumed, but Texas Tech continued to extend their lead despite a quiet night from Culver, their leading scorer.

Michigan State's Cassius Winston, who netted nine points in the first half, remained scoreless in the second as the Spartans struggled. Down 45–33 at the under-12 timeout after Mooney netted a three from well beyond the arc, Michigan State faced its largest deficit of the tournament so far. 

Culver scored his first bucket of the night with just under nine minutes remaining in regulation, just seconds after Winston scored his first points of the second half for Tom Izzo's squad. The Spartans started chipping away at the deficit with a three-point jumper from Xavier Tillman was followed by two sets of two sunk free throws from Winston and another pair from Tillman at the line.

Aaron Henry took the next trip to the line, sinking the eighth straight point for the Spartans from a foul shot. The freshman forward followed that with a layup to bring the score within one at 52–51 with 2:55 to play when Culver came to life for Texas Tech.

 

Culver scored seven points in the last two and a half minutes for the Red Raiders, who walked away with a 61–51 win and a slot in their first national title game in program history. Culver finished the night with 10 points, five rebounds and two assists behind Mooney, who dropped 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, which included 4-of-8 from three.

Winston led the Spartans with 16 points.

Texas Tech alum and current Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was on site in Minneapolis for the win.

Texas Tech will face Virginia on Monday night in the 2019 NCAA tournament title game. Tip off is set for 9:20 p.m. ET.

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