Earlier this week, we revealed our honorable mention and Top 10-6 games from the previous school year. Now it’s time to release our Top 5 games. If you missed any of our previous lists, you can click the link below:
|Staking The Plains Top Ten 2018-2019|
|Athletes (Part 1/Part 2)||Plays (Part 1/Part 2)||Games (Part 1/Part 2)||Performances (Part 1/Part 2)||Programs (Part 1/Part 2)|
No. 5 Basketball at Iowa State
|3/9/2019||No. 8 Texas Tech 80, Iowa State 73||Jarrett Culver (31 pts, 4 rebs, 12-19 FG); Davide Moretti (20 pts, 6-12 FG); Matt Mooney (13 pts, 6 rebs, 5 asts, 4 stls); Tariq Owens (8 pts, 14 rebs, 3 Blks).|
Why This Was Chosen?: Whenever we first got the schedule, we knew that if Texas Tech wanted to win the Big 12, it was likely going to come down to one game; at Iowa State. That ended up being the case, with the Red Raiders needing a victory in Aimes to secure a Big 12 title.
That’s the main reason why this game is in the Top 5. Another reason is the fact that, like most good basketball games, it was a back-and-forth affair with no real team getting an advantage, constantly being stressful but fun. And it ended in a wonderful way.
Although at first it didn’t look like it was going to be a good day. Iowa State took a 8-0 lead just a minute and a half into the game. Typical Tech was going to blow it. But not this time. Tariq Owens and Jarrett Culver gave the Red Raiders the lead just three minutes later.
At that point it was a game full of lead changes, basically between Iowa State and Culver, who had 12 in the first half. However, with just two minutes left, the Cyclones regained their eight points lead. Davide Moretti didn’t like that, so he hit two three, including a buzzer beater to shorten the lead to two points at halftime.
Culver had his career moment after that, scoring 19 points in the second half, giving the Red Raiders a six points lead with five minutes to go. But Iowa State, just didn’t quit, tying the game with four minutes left. Then, one of the most memorable stretches in Texas Tech basketball history happened.
Brandone Francis hit a deep three with time running out. Norense Odaise forced a turnover. Culver hit a fade away to go up five. Mooney saved a shot clock violation, so Owens could grab an offensive rebound and made two free throws. Davide Moretti hit clutch free throws to seal it. Everyone got involved in a big way and walked away with their first Big 12 championship.
No. 4 Track and Field National Championships
|6/7/2019||1st Place: Texas Tech, 60||Divine Oduduru (20 points); Duke Kicinski (10 points); Norman Grimes (8 points); Justin Hall (5 points); Odaine Lewis (3 points).|
Why This Was Chosen?: Basketball and Baseball games are more watched than Track and Field Championships, so maybe it’s not as high as some people might think. But that being said, it was nationally televised and the Red Raiders walked away with this pretty cool thing called the National Championship.
Brandon Bray and Drew McMichael started the scoring for the Red Raiders, combining for three points during the Pole Vault final a couple days prior. Justin Hall added five points after finishing fourth at Long Jump to give Texas Tech eight points early.
Texas Tech surprisingly finished third in the 400-meter relay (Keion Sutton, Oduduru, Andrew Hudson and Jacolby Shelton) to gain six more points on the first event of the final day. Oduduru then had his 100 meter victory, followed by Jonah Koech and Vincent Crisp adding three more in the 800 meter run to bring the total to 27 points.
However, they were nine points behind Florida and needed points, Luckily, the Red Raiders’ best performers started adding points. Norman Grimes finished second in the 400 meter hurdles after projecting to finish third to add eight more points. Lewis finish sixth in the triple jump to add three more points. And Oduduru added 10 more with his 200 meter dash.
And just like that Tech had a 50-42 lead. While this was going on, Duke Kicinski was participating in the discus and had the best throw, which would give Texas Tech 10 more points and the championship. Luckily, no one beat the throw, and the Red Raider athletics started to celebrate on the field with just a couple races to go.
This was the first National Championship ever on the men’s side, and it was from a program that has been great for a long time, under a coach from the West Texas area. And, just for giggles, Texas Tech defeated their favorite postseason opponent, Florida, for the title.
No. 3 Baseball vs OKST (Super Regional, Game 3)
|6/9/2019||No. 8 Texas Tech 8, No. 9 Oklahoma State 6||Josh Jung (2-4, 2 HR); Braxton Fulford (2-4, HR, 2 RBI); Kurt Wilson (1-4, 3 run HR); Bryce Bonnin (4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 K’s); Dylan Neuse (2-4, RBI).|
Why This Was Chosen?: Even though this isn’t a game in the College World Series, there’s plenty of reasons why this is my highest rated baseball game. First off, the Red Raiders eliminated a conference foe. They also advanced to the CWS in a winner take all. And the game had everything you want; constant lead changes and comebacks.
This was the third game of the Lubbock Super Regional, with the No. 8 team taking the first game (which was No. 8 on our list) and the No. 9 team took the second game on a walk-off. It was also a strange day in Lubbock. Despite it being in the middle of June, the temperature was in the 60’s with winds so strong that a pop up could turn into a home run. A lot of fans had to watch the game with sweaters on.
Even though it was cold, the bats came out hots, After a scoreless first inning, Trevor Boone sent one over to wall to give Oklahoma State the early 1-0 lead. An inning later, the Red Raiders would respond. With one out in the inning, Tanner O’Tremba doubled down the line. Braxton Fulford doubled two pitches later to lie the game. Two pitches after that, Dylan Neuse doubled (thanks to the wind possibly) to give Tech the 2-1 lead.
Meanwhile, Bonnin pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one run in the first four innings. In the bottom of the fourth, while ESPN was talking to the Oklahoma State coach, Josh Jung went deep to give the Red Raiders a two run cushion. But it didn’t last long. The Cowboys tied it in the fifth thanks to a couple doubles and a sac fly.
That didn’t last long either, as Fulford went deep to lead-off the fifth to give the Red Raiders back the lead. However, theme of this series had been back and forth baseball, and the Cowboys responded with a solo shot in the seventh, followed by another solo shot and a sac fly in the eighth to go up 8-6. The Red Raiders needed another comeback.
Fortunately, this is what Texas Tech had done all year. Jung got the crowd going with yet another solo shot to lead off. Cameron Warren drew a walk to reach base. Cody Masters did the same a batter later. Then, with one out in the inning, the unlikeliest of guys stepped up. Kurt Wilson took an elevated 1-1 pitch over the right center field wall to give the Red Raiders an 8-6 lead.
After a couple men reached in the top of the ninth, Dane Haveman retired three batters (two via the strikeout) to start the dog pile and send Texas Tech to their fourth CWS in six years.
No. 2 Basketball vs Michigan State
|4/6/2019||No. 10 Texas Tech 61, No. 5 Michigan State 51||Matt Mooney (22 pts, 8-16 FG, 3 rebs); Jarrett Culver (10 pts, 5 rebs, 2 asts); Brandone Francis (9 pts, 4-8 FG); Norense Odiase (2 pts, 9 Rebs, 2 asts).|
Why This Was Chosen?: I had trouble thinking which basketball game I wanted to be No. 1 on this, much like I had trouble deciding between the basketball team’s games against Florida and Purdue last year along with the baseball team’s game against Florida. But there was no doubt that I wanted the next two games to be the top two.
Of course, out of all the games on here, this was the biggest stage. It was the biggest stage any Texas Tech program has ever been on, as it had an audience of 16 million. It was their first Final Four game in program history and the media surrounding the Red Raiders was incredible. People were talking about Texas Tech the whole week, and for maybe the first time, they were the center of the sports world.
After an intense Virginia-Auburn semifinal game, Texas Tech and Michigan State tip-off and began a little bit calmer. It was a defensive game from the get go, with outstanding defense from both sides. Tariq Owens was big with some incredible blocks and a poster slam in the first half. Matt Mooney also lead the way with nine points, as the Red Raiders entered half time up 23-21.
At halftime, Chris Beard did what he always does and got his team ready for the second half. The game continued to go back in forth for the first six minutes before the Red Raiders, and mostly Mooney, started to pull away. Mooney hit a lay-up in the paint to go up five, followed by a Kyler Edwards and-one to increase the lead to eight points.
After a Spartan lay-up, Matt Mooney hit a three pointer, followed by another deep three pointer a minute later. Michigan State was forced to take a time out to figure things out. And with about seven minutes to go, they did, decreasing the Red Raider lead to just a point with 3 minutes to go.
We’ve all seen this happen to Texas Tech teams in the past, but this year it’s different. Texas Tech doesn’t fold in big moments. They rise to the occasion. Jarrett Culver had been struggling all game, shooting 22% on the night. But he came up big at the end of the game. Culver hit a jumper with 2:29 to go, then made a free throw off a foul. With a minute left, the Lubbock native hit a spot up three to increase the lead to seven. Game. Over.
Just like that, Texas Tech was advancing to their first national title game. It was nice to be able to celebrate a win in the Final Four and have the feeling of playing for a national championship. And we have to thank this amazing game for that.
No. 1 Basketball vs Gonzaga
|3/30/2019||No. 10 Texas Tech 75, No. 4 Gonzaga 69||Jarrett Culver (19 pts, 5 rebs, 3 stls); Matt Mooney (17 pts, 5 asts, 3 stls); Davide Moretti (12 pts, 2 asts, 2 stls); Tariq Owens (9 pts, 7 rebs, 3 blks).|
Why This Was Chosen?: For the second year in a row, the last win of the basketball season isn’t the top game on my list. But even though the win over Michigan State was in a later round, I felt this game was more important for the program, was against a tougher opponent, and was just the better game in general.
Texas Tech was at this point last year, and took an eight point lead early, but quickly fell behind and never really got close in the second half. Sure, the Red Raiders got within five points late, but it felt out of hand still. This game with close the whole way. The biggest lead was seven, which was with a minute left in the game.
There were 11 ties and 12 lead changes, while Texas Tech lead for 15:47 and Gonzaga lead for 15:23. Rarely do you those times lead so close in a basketball game. With the exception of fast break and bench points, almost every category seemed real close. This was the most memorable game I’ve seen in Texas Tech history.
And it took Texas Tech’s best effort to defeat them too. Some analysts and people thought that Gonzaga was the best team left in the tournament. The bulldogs had an amazing offense, so scary that Reggie Miller said “You can’t outshoot Billy the Kid”. Well, as he said later on in the broadcast, “Maybe you can”.
The game was also full of stand outs plays and sequences. Matt Mooney, who had a team high 11 in the first half, spun around the whole Gonzaga defense for a bucket early. Jarrett Culver scored on an iso top of the key three, and everyone else seemed to be making threes as well. But Gonzaga was good too, with Rui Hachimura going off and the rest of the players hitting some tough shots.
Gonzaga got off to a two possession lead in the second half, which was a lot in this game, but deep threes from Kyler Edwards and Culver caught Texas Tech up and gave them the lead. Mid-way through the second half, it looked like the Red Raiders were going to take a five points lead, but a turnover cut the lead down the one. Then, some of the best plays in Texas Tech history happened.
With six minutes to go, Culver missed a lay-up, but recovered his own rebound to go up 4. A minute later, Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins hit a fastbreak deep three to tie the game. Mooney maneuvered his way to a lay-up, setting up Davide Moretti’s 30 ft jumper to give Tech a five point lead. Moretti would add another three later, followed by an Tariq Owens block that would give Tech a seven point lead late.
But good teams don’t go down without a fight. Gonzaga hit some tough shots and forced Moretti to turn over the ball to cut the lead to within two with 22 seconds. It looked like Gonzaga might make a comeback, but Perkins grabbed Mooney’s arm when throwing the basketball. A big no-no. Tech was awarded two free throws and the ball, ending the game.
There was a lot of great games this year, but a basketball game where both teams were within two possessions the whole time, with a trip to the Final Four on the line, and a lot of memorable moments is tough to beat. It nearly gave me a heart attack, but I’m willing to do it all again next year.