Big 12 Basketball

Texas Tech Advances to Third Sweet 16 in Last Four NCAA Tournaments

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Montana State vs Texas Tech

The Texas Tech Red Raiders beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 59-53, in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Tournament on Sunday in San Diego, Calif.

With the victory, Texas Tech will face Duke in the West Region’s Sweet 16 in San Francisco next week. That gives the Red Raiders (27-9) the chance to end the career of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is retiring at the end of this season. Duke rallied to beat Michigan State on Sunday.

Texas Tech became the third Big 12 team to advance to the Sweet 16. Kansas did so on Saturday by beating Creighton in Midwest Region action. Iowa State became the second after beating Wisconsin in Milwaukee, which was also in the Midwest Region.

 

Kevin Obanor had an incredible game, scoring 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Bryson Williams and Kevin McCullar each had 14 points.

The Red Raiders won this game the ‘Red Raider Way’ — with defense and free-throw shooting.

With under four minutes to play, the Red Raiders were down 49-47 to the Irish (24-11), as Notre Dame was trying to win its third game in five days after starting in the First Four. The Red Raiders were already struggling from the floor, having missed six straight shots. Texas Tech would end up going nearly the final seven minutes of the game without a made field goal.

But Texas Tech made it work.

Notre Dame pushed the lead to 52-49 with 2:30 left in the game. At the other end, Adonis Arms missed a layup, Obanor rebounded and missed a put-back and then Arms grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Arms made both free throws to cut the lead to 52-51 with 1:56 left.

 

At the other end, Terrence Shannon Jr. stole a Notre Dame pass and Tech took a time out. At the other end, Obanor missed a jumper, but grabbed the rebound and drew a foul on the put-back. He made both free throws with 1:10 left to give Tech the lead, 53-52.

At the other end, Texas Tech flexed its defense again. Marcus Santos-Silva blocked a Blake Wesley layup, Santos-Silva grabbed the ball and then drew a foul, which put him at the line. With 54 seconds left Santos-Silva made both free throws to put Texas Tech up three.

The Irish still had a chance. Wesley had the ball and drove into the paint, but he found himself surrounded by four Red Raider defenders. Wesley dished the ball out to the perimeter, but he ended up splitting two of his own teammates and the ball went out of bounds.

The Irish fouled McCullar with 40 seconds left and he made both free throws to give the Red Raiders a 57-52 lead. At that point, the Red Raiders had gone 13-14 at the free throw line in the second half and had a two-possession lead, despite their massive shooting drought from the floor.

 

One last defensive stop led to the Red Raiders’ only field goal of the final seven minutes, as the Irish missed two shots, followed by a Santos-Silva blocked shot. The Red Raiders threw an outlet pass to McCullar, who drove the length of the floor for an emphatic dunk to send the Red Raiders to the Sweet 16.

This will be Texas Tech’s third berth in the Sweet 16 since the 2018 season, but it will be the first with Mark Adams as head coach, who took over the program last April after Chris Beard’s departure to Texas. In 2018, the Red Raiders reached the Elite Eight before bowing out of the tournament. In 2019, the Red Raiders reached the national championship game before losing to Virginia in overtime.

The Red Raiders shot 36 percent for the game but ended up shooting 13-of-17 from the free-throw line for the game. Texas Tech also forced 11 Irish turnovers and turned them into 11 points.

Dane Goodwin led Notre Dame with 14 points, including three 3-pointers. Wesley added 11 points.  

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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