KANSAS CITY – Texas Tech was knocked out of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Championship after a 79-74 quarterfinal loss to West Virginia on Thursday at the Sprint Center.
The No. 7 Red Raiders (26-6) trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half before taking a one-point lead with two minutes remaining in the game, but the Mountaineers (14-19) went 9-for-9 at the free-throw line in the final two minutes to pull out the win and advance to the semifinals. WVU finished the game shooting 20 of 22 from the free-throw line and owned a 22-11 advantage in second-chance points as they eliminated Tech from the Big 12 tournament for the second straight season.
Texas Tech will now wait until Selection Sunday to see where and who it will play next when the NCAA announces the bracket at 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Red Raiders will making their 17th appearance in the NCAA tournament and will host a watch party at 4ORE! Golf for their fans.
Jarrett Culver recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while also going for five steals and four assists. Culver went over 1,000 points in his career in the game where he was 11-for-24 from the field. The Red Raiders finished the game 16-for-18 at the free-throw line but were out-rebounded 44-30 in the game. Tech had four players score in double figures with Tariq Owens going for 14 points, Matt Mooney scoring 13 and Davide Moretti recording 10. Owens was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line and also had three blocks for the fourth straight game. Mooney was 3-for-5 on 3-pointers in the game for Tech which went 6-for-18 from beyond the arc.
The Red Raiders, which had a nine-game winning streak end with the loss, were down 63-47 with 8:38 remaining on an Emmitt Matthews 3-pointer for West Virginia before they started chipping away. A Culver layup made it a nine-point game with 5:40 on the clock before a Brandone Francis layup cut the deficit to seven. Moretti would hit his second 3-pointer of the game to make it 65-61 but WVU answered with a Jordan McCabe 3-pointer. The Red Raiders pulled to three on a Culver dunk that gave him 1,001 career points with 3:06 remaining before they took their first lead on a Culver fastbreak layup after he had blocked a 3-point attempt by McCabe on the other end. The 69-68 lead would be the only advantage the Red Raiders would have in the game as the Mountaineers continued getting to the free-throw line and knocking down their shots. Down 77-74, Culver missed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining which was rebounded by Matthews who was fouled and hit two free throws to secure the win.
Matthews led WVU with 28 points and eight rebounds, while McCabe went for 13 points and eight assists. The Mountaineers finished the game with seven 3-pointers with McCabe, Matthews and Lamont West each having two. Matthews was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, while Derek Culver had 13 rebounds and six points. WVU was 16-for-18 at the line in the second half, while Tech was 10-for-12.
Texas Tech trailed 38-29 at halftime and were down by as many as 17 midway through the half. The Mountaineers built their lead by owning a 26-11 rebounding advantage and also hitting four 3-pointers. The Red Raiders had committed seven turnovers and were just 3-for-10 on 3-pointers and 10-for-26 from the field.
Down 28-11, Deshawn Corprew hit a jumper to stop a WVU run followed by a Mooney 3-pointer and help the Red Raiders get back into the game. WVU's 12-0 was followed by the Red Raiders going on an 11-0 run that included a Francis 3-pointer to cut it to 10 with four minutes to play before a pair of Owens free throws made it 33-29.
Culver led the Red Raiders with six points at halftime, while Moretti and Mooney had five each. Culver will now go into the NCAA tournament having scored 1,008 points in his career. He is the first player in program history to reach the 1,000-point milestone as a freshman-sophomore and is the 42nd player to reach it. Moretti has now made at least one 3-pointer in 21 straight games, while Owens is at 78 blocks this season to increase the program's new single-season record.
Texas Tech is now 14-23 all-time 23 appearances at the Big 12 Conference Championship. The Mountaineers advanced where they will now play the Kansas at 8 p.m. on Friday at the Sprint Center.