Basketball

Linking Up Texas Tech Basketball as the Red Raiders Play for a National Championship

This is it.

We’re here. I’m exhausted and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be completely distracted at work all day long. This is it. Love ya!

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USA Today’s Nancy Armour – Opinion: When it mattered most in Final Four, Texas Tech’s hometown hero Jarrett Culver came through:

“He carried us the whole season pretty much,” Kyler Edwards said. “We were pretty confident he was going to hit one.”

Culver’s next shot was blocked, but the Spartans missed a 3 and Culver was fouled on another attempt. He made the first of two, and Michigan State grabbed the rebound. But Norense Odiase stripped Xavier Tillman and fed Culver, who pulled up just outside the 3-point line and let fly.

“I practice that shot a lot,” Culver said. “It felt good when it came off my hands. I shot it with confidence and it went in.

“I just thank God it went in.”

Chicago Sun-Times’ Steve Greenberg – After zapping Big Ten’s title hopes, Texas Tech gets chance to out-‘D’ Virginia:

Virginia has the stingiest defense in the country measured in points allowed — 55 a game — but Texas Tech has been even more impressive at that end of the floor during the tournament. What the Red Raiders, who top the nation in defensive efficiency, did against Michigan and Michigan State en route to the title game was eye-poppingly good. If there’s anyone better at closing out on three-point shooters than 6-10 string bean Tariq Owens, we haven’t seen him.

‘‘They’re really special defensively,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘I have the utmost respect for how they play.’’

USA Today’s Scott Gleeson – National championship game preview: Texas Tech vs. Virginia — which team has the edge?:

Key player for UVA: Ty Jerome. While Guy was the hero vs. Auburn for his last-second free throws and clutch 3-point shooting, Jerome was once again the overshadowed star — finishing with 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists. His running jump shot with 6:46 remaining and a 3-pointer with 5:24 left were momentum-shifters. And it’s hard to forget the impact of Jerome’s performance against Purdue — 24 points, seven assists. Jerome has a clutch gene that could decide the game against the Red Raiders, and how he runs the team will be vital. Maybe it is not a coincidence that when he went to the bench after his fourth foul with 4:32 remaining, Auburn started its comeback from a nine-point deficit.

SI’s Michael Rosenberg – History Aside, Texas Tech’s Run to the National Title Game Should Come as No Surprise:

That is where Texas Tech is now. Forget history. Forget that Michigan State was in its 10th men’s Final Four and Texas Tech is in its first. Forget that Tom Izzo has already delivered his induction speech at the Hall of Fame and Chris Beard has spent an inordinate amount of media time this week promoting Pop-Tarts. Forget that Culver couldn’t find the rim with a metal detector in the first half.

And forget that Michigan State cut the score to 52-51 with less than three minutes left. Texas Tech figures with its defense, one-point leads are safe. The Red Raiders gave the ball to Culver, their future lottery pick, and he took care of the rest.

“When it’s crunch time, I’m locked and loaded, (David Moretti) was locked and loaded, Matt Mooney was locked and loaded, so they couldn’t help,” Texas Tech’s Brandone Francis said afterward. “So it’s one on one.”

CBS Sports’ Reid Forgrave – Final Four 2019: Chris Beard keeps taking Texas Tech to heights no one could have imagined:

What Chris Beard has done in his three years at Texas Tech — three years! — is nothing short of remarkable. Lubbock, Texas, is not exactly a hotbed for basketball. Bobby Knight went there, and he didn’t take Texas Tech anywhere near this far. Tubby Smith went there, and he didn’t take Texas Tech anywhere near this far.

But Chris Beard went there, and boom: His team is already making history.

“He told us this summer – I don’t know if it was the first game, but it was early – but he said we have enough in this locker room right here to play on the final Monday night,” Mooney said. Either coach is psychic, or – he might be psychic. Because here we are, on the final Monday night. We just believed in him and believed in each other.”

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello – Texas Tech’s Owens in boot, expected to play:

Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Chris Beard told ESPN’s Allison Williams that he expects starting forward Tariq Owens to play in Monday’s national championship game but will have a better idea on Monday after treatment and rest.

AP’s Aaron Beard – Culver, Hunter Bring NBA Upside To Texas Tech-Virginia Final:

Yet here they are in Minneapolis, a pair of players who have blossomed into bonafide NBA prospects for teams a win away from becoming a first-time national champion. Consider it proof — or maybe simply a needed reminder — that college players can still take a slightly longer path to becoming top-tier NBA prospects amid the college game’s starry-eyed infatuation with one-and-done talents.

“You can do that,” Culver said Sunday, the day before his Red Raiders meet Hunter’s Cavaliers in the national-title game. “The one-and-dones, they’re very talented guys coming out of high school and they get looked at a lot. My route was just a little different. I don’t know how long I’ll be in college. I just know if you put the work in and set your goals, you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

AP’s Ralph Russo – 1st-Timers Texas Tech And Virginia Face Off For NCAA Title:

Bennett’s belief he could challenge the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Tobacco Road powers came from his father, Dick Bennett. The Badgers hadn’t been to a Final Four in more than 50 years, when Dick Bennett coached them there in 2000 using a methodical style.

“Can you go and take a team and build your program in a way that you think is best and compete against the best?” said Bennett, in his 10th season at Virginia. “There’s a way that I know works — or that I believe works. So when you get in those spots, you hope, you have a vision and you hope, but you never truly know. When you come in and say, ‘This is going to happen. We’re going to be a Final Four team, or we’re going to win the ACC.’ You believe it, and you hope it, and then you just go to work.”

NY Post’s Howie Kussoy – Best defense wins: Texas Tech, Virginia battle for NCAA crown:

Defense has brought the top-seeded Cavaliers and third-seeded Red Raiders to Monday night’s national championship game, the first featuring a pair of first-time participants since Magic Johnson and Larry Bird squared off four decades ago. A once-unheralded group will be crowned college basketball’s best at U.S. Bank Stadium, marking the first first-time national champion in 13 years.

“I think it’s a testament to both programs,” Virginia’s Kyle Guy said. “They take their time developing. They’re not afraid to go against the trend of one-and-dones. … I think both teams have the same sense of it’s not about you. It’s about everyone on the team. I think that’s great for the sport.”

Star Tribune’s Marcus Fuller – Analysis and prediction: Texas Tech vs. Virginia for the national title:

One to watch

Kihei Clark, Virginia: At 5-foot-9, he is the shortest player in the Final Four, but he made the biggest play to get the Cavaliers to Minneapolis on the pass to Mamadi Diakite for the buzzer-beater in the Elite Eight overtime win vs. Purdue. Clark’s facilitating, defense and basketball instincts are well beyond your typical freshman. The California native has eight assists and zero turnovers in the past two games.

LA Times’ Ben Bolch – Chris Beard, Texas Tech remember where they came from and how they got to NCAA title game:

Coaches were crammed into that Courtyard Marriott at another Final Four. The coaches would sleep two to a bed without the comforters, which would go to those consigned to the floor. The unluckiest of them all would end up in the bathtub with some pillows. But even Beard had his limits.

“I guess I’ll share a bar of soap if you wash it really good,” he said, “but I’m not sharing a towel with any other man. [So] we used to come to the Final Fours and bring our own towels.”

SI – National Championship Game Picks: Who Wins It All Between Virginia and Texas Tech?:

DAN GREENE: TEXAS TECH
I don’t feel particularly confident about Texas Tech because this really feels like a game that will be decided by the narrowest of margins—perhaps, if Virginia’s recent history is any indicator, by a wild, fateful play in the final moments. What I like about the Red Raiders here is that the length, athleticism, and activity of their defense could pose the Cavaliers as many problems inside the arc as they did Michigan State, and their supporting cast around Jarrett Culver seems to be peaking at just the right time. This is going to be a tight grind, but I think Texas Tech takes it.

NY Times’ Marc Tracy – In First N.C.A.A. Title Game, Virginia Savors Shot at Redemption:

So many factors compounded last March to make the result of Virginia’s game versus the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, so awful for the Cavaliers. There was the sheer history of being the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 seed in the men’s tournament. There was the fact that the game itself was not close: The Cavaliers lost by 20 points. There was the size of the fall, as Virginia was not only a top seed last year but the overall top seed, deemed the very best team in the country only days before its stunning exit. And U.M.B.C., with its inspiring academic story and clever Twitter feed, was an underdog — a Cheseapake retriever, to be precise — straight from central casting, so magnetic that there was barely time to feel bad for a Virginia team that had just had the equivalent of a 20-ton weight dropped on it.

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