Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech Rout No. 2 Michigan, Will Play Gonzaga in Elite 8

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Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech Rout No. 2 Michigan, Will Play Gonzaga in Elite 8
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 28: Jarrett Culver #23 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders celebrates after making a basket and drawing a foul against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at Honda Center on March 28, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Harry How/Getty Images

In a Sweet 16 showdown between two of the nation’s best defensive teams, the Texas Tech Red Raiders prevailed with a 63-44 victory over the Michigan Wolverines. 

After winning their first two NCAA tournament games by a combined 35 points, Texas Tech faced an opponent that plays a similar style on the court. The Red Raiders lead the nation in defensive efficiency (0.854 points allowed per possession), with Michigan a close third (0.873), per TeamRankings.com

Texas Tech’s unit prevailed by shutting down the Wolverines, holding them to a season low in points. Jarrett Culver (22 points, four rebounds) and Davide Moretti (15 points, four assists) sparked the Red Raiders’ offense in the win. 

The first half was nothing short of an epic offensive struggle for both teams. They combined to score 40 points on 17-of-55 shooting, with Texas Tech’s Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney making the only threes for either side. 

Mooney’s three was emblematic of the game’s flow, as Texas Tech essentially let the shot clock run down without getting an attempt before he just heaved the ball toward the basket:

For all the criticisms Michigan’s football team has received for its lackluster play since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach, that group fared better more often in 2018 than the basketball team did in the first half Thursday:

In case anyone wants to assume this game was just a case of two great defenses at peak performance, The Athletic’s Chris Vannini poured cold water on that theory:

Michigan was much worse than that, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Red Raiders head coach Chris Beard must have figured something out during halftime. His team started the second half scoring 12 of the first 14 points, increasing its lead to 36-18. 

Among the reasons Michigan is heading home is its struggles behind the arc. The Wolverines weren’t a three-point-shooting dynamo during the season, making 34.9 percent of their attempts, but they hit a new low Thursday by going 1-of-19. 

Following their statement win in the Sweet 16, the Red Raiders will face a very different team Saturday when they take on Gonzaga. The No. 1 seed in the West Region has scored at least 72 points in all three tournament games and averages 88.6 points per contest. 

Texas Tech’s defense will have to be on point for the team to reach the Final Four for the first time in school history. 

What’s Next?

Texas Tech will take on Gonzaga Saturday with a spot in the Final Four on the line. 

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