MINNEAPOLIS – Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" blaring from the speakers made Texas Tech's players calmly leave the dressing room for their 61-51 win over Michigan State on Saturday night.
No Jumping "I went down to play 80 minutes, not 40," said Jarrett Culver, Red Raiders' second guard.
For Texas Tech it's 40 minutes from the program – no, sports department – history. The Red Raiders have never won a national championship in men's basketball. And they have only won one NCAA championship in a team sport in the school's history: 1993 a women's basketball title headed by Sheryl Swoopes. (Virginia – the opponent of the Red Raiders in the final of the NCAA tournament on Monday night ̵
The Texas Tech coach has joined the Red Raiders the national semi-finals after a career that went on a detour.
The defense of the Red Raiders closed the Spartans, and now Chris Beard's team has a chance to make history for the Monday match program. 19659007] Auburn coach Bruce Pearl asked fans to remember a "great game," but Virginia and Auburn's Final Four match are tied to a foul.
This is a chance for Texas Tech to become history in college basketball an extremely rare opportunity for the Red Raiders to be the talk of the sports world.
"It would mean anything," said the native Lubbock, Culver. "I never thought Tech would come to this point just growing up in Lubbock, but now that I'm here with Tech, it's so special for me to be a part of it."
Writing history, Texas Tech still needs to get more from Culver, who was unusually calm in the first 38 minutes of Saturday's game – before he missed big punches, including a dagger with 3 hands from the top of the button and 58 seconds before the end of the Red Raiders a lead of seven points. Davide Moretti, the hero against Gonzaga in the elite Eight, but only five points against the state of Michigan, will need more.
Luckily for coach Chris Beard and the Red Raiders, graduate transfer Matt Mooney was ready for the big stage. Mooney, who left South Dakota last spring, finished the race with 22 points and four 3-pointers. In the second half of the interim, Mooney hit three 3-pointers in a two-minute and 35-second period, extending Texas Tech's lead from six to 12 points.
"I had a great shootout today and the basket just got big for me," Mooney said. "I felt like [God] was out there playing with us on the floor, the basket got big and my teammates found me."
Mooney also guarded Michigan state star Cassius Winston, arguably the best point guard in the country. And Winston ended up with one of his worst performances of the season. He shot 4: 16 out of the field and had only two assists and four turnovers.
Throughout the season, Winston had made big strikes in the late games to keep the Spartans alive; On Saturday, Mooney made sure he did not have that chance.
"He's obviously very, very talented, but what really impressed me tonight was only his courage to be able to do those big pieces and want to be in those moments," said Beard of Mooney. "If Culver was – I'm not going to say I have to defend myself a bit, I think when Michigan State was so focused on Culver, Matt had the courage to take those shots and he plays games at both ends He loved his attitude this evening, he's a special player. "
Brandone Francis, the Red Raider's post, offered Mooney.
"He wanted to play hard at the defensive end," said Francis. "When he came to Tech, I had no idea he could play the defense so well, we're just glad he had a great night." so far. The cavaliers play the defense as well as anyone in the country, controlling the pace and pace of the game. It will be a defensive exchange, with the lowest value over / under (120) for a national championship game in the past 20 seasons (eight points lower than the previous low, 128 for the Florida-UCLA 2006 match)] Virginia is preferred But that's nothing new for the Red Raiders. They were seventh in the pre-season for the Big-12 election and were locked in series in three games.
Jay Bilas breaks down what Texas Tech has done well against Michigan State in the defensive end earned a place in the championship game.
"Why not us, we have good players, we have a great university, we play in the best league in the country," said Beard. "We won the big-12 title of the regular season, we are a good team, we have good players, yes, I think we deserve to be here, as do many other teams, you have to be lucky, but we are I'm looking forward to training these guys on Monday night. "
In only three seasons under Beard, Texas Tech's basketball program has already made history. The Red Raiders made their first Elite Eight last season, then followed with their first Final Four this season. It's not common for tech to make headlines. Among the major public schools in Texas they are well behind the operating income of Texas and Texas A & M.
Sporting success – especially in basketball – is not an annual event in Lubbock.
"Long journey for our program," said Norense Odiase. "I'm so happy we're here … Looking back at this season and people watching our program and seeing what we've done in such a short time, it's something special, it's really something special."
But there is another task. And when it happens, the aftermath of the locker room gets a little louder.
"I feel like this team is on a mission," said Culver. "Another game until the national championship."