Texas Tech rides smothering defense past Michigan in Sweet 16





Texas Tech is not a team that’s demanded the attention of the casual basketball fan this season.

After Thursday’s thorough domination of Michigan in the Sweet 16, it can no longer be ignored.

The Red Raiders put on a defensive clinic unlike many seen before in the NCAA tournament in a 63-44 win to advance to the West regional final against Gonzaga.

Michigan’s dubious scoring mark

In doing so, they held the Wolverines to an all-time tournament low of 16 points in the first half.

Coming in, the game promised to be a slog. Texas Tech entered the matchup ranked first in the nation in defensive efficiency with Michigan ranking third. Both teams trailed only Virginia in points per game allowed.

But one defense was clearly better than the other on Thursday, with Texas Tech staking its claim as a championship contender capable of shutting down any offense that stands in its way.

Texas Tech is a win away from the Final Four after dominating Michigan. (Getty)

New low for Wolverines

The Red Raiders held the Wolverines to their all-time low scoring output in NCAA tournament play, a mark that had stood since 1948 when they score 45 against Holy Cross, according to CBS. In doing so, they limited Michigan to 1-of-19 shooting from 3-point distance.

“I thought we guarded,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard told CBS after the win. “Everybody was dialed in. We had so much respect for Michigan. I thought our guys defended at a high level today.”

Michigan had no answer for Texas Tech’s defense. (Getty)

Red Raiders lean on lottery pick on offense

On offense, the Red Raiders were careful with the ball while leaning on projected lottery pick Jarrett Culver to do most of the damage. Culver led the team with 22 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists while Davide Moretti tallied 15 points and Matt Mooney scored 10.

It wasn’t a dynamic offensive display or one that was even remarkably efficient, as the Red Raiders shot 43.6 percent from the field. But they stuck to the game plan of protecting the ball — turning it over just eight times — and letting their defense do the rest.

Michigan scored three buckets outside of the paint the entire night. Only C.J. Baird’s 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining kept the Wolverines from having the worst 3-point shooting night in NCAA tournament history after they missed their first 18 attempts from distance.

The record for most 3-point attempts without a make is 15, according to CBS.

On the night, the Wolverines shot 32.7 percent from the field while turning the ball over 14 times. Two players scored in double figures. Ignas Brazdeikis tallied 17 points and 13 rebounds while Charles Matthews scored 12.

Massive clash of styles coming up

The win sets up an intriguing matchup in Saturday’s West regional final, with Gonzaga owning the nation’s most efficient offense.

It will be a clash of styles like no other in the NCAA tournament with a trip to the Final Four at stake.

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