No. 11 Texas Tech beats K-State 63-57 for 2-0 Big 12 start
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Davide Moretti made a handful of big offensive plays at opportune times, including a big personal run, to spark No. 11 Texas Tech in a matchup of two great defensive teams.
Moretti scored a career-high 19 points and Matt Mooney added 14 to give the Red Raiders enough of an edge to hold off Kansas State 63-57 on Saturday.
“We needed some grit to beat a Kansas State team that wasn’t going to go away, and Davide delivered,” Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I thought we showed some grit. We hung in there and gave ourselves a chance.”
Kansas State (10-4, 0-2 Big 12), which trailed 14-0 less than 7 minutes into the game, erased most of a 34-19 halftime deficit. The Wildcats were within 43-42 when Barry Brown knocked down a long 3-pointer with 6:55 left in the game.
But Texas Tech (13-1, 2-0) found some offensive rhythm to pull away, with Moretti scoring 10 points in a row for the Red Raiders. He hit a 3-pointer before Brown’s shot, and then scored the game’s next seven points after that. That included another 3 as Tech pushed to a 50-42 lead.
Brown led the Wildcats with 16 points and Cartier Diarra added 11 on a day when they struggled to make shots. Still without injured Big 12 preseason player of the year Dean Wade, they shot only 33 percent (19 of 57) from the field.
“They guard differently than anybody else,” Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. “They kind of play on your ego and push you to drive to the hoop and then they make the right play. You have to make the right play against them.”
Tariq Owens had a blocked shot that led to a layup by Moretti and also a steal in that key-turning push by the Red Raiders.
“That was a big-time moment,” Moretti said.
Added Weber, “It seemed like every time we made a push, he hit a big shot.”
The Wildcats were down 14-0 before Brown’s two free throws 6½ minutes into the game. They missed their first 13 shots from the floor until Diarra got loose on a runout and hit a driving layup with just over 9 minutes left in the first half. That basket triggered a brief Wildcats’ surge — seven points in 1:18.
“When you’ve got to fight your butt off (from 14-0), it’s hard to recover and grab that lead,” Weber said. “To our guys’ credit, we figured some things out. We scored better in the second half.”
Texas Tech hit a lull about that same time, missing seven field goals in a row after DeShaun Coprew buried a 3-pointer at the 12-minute mark.
Moretti helped the Red Raiders get back on track when he hit a 3, Culver made his only field goal of the first half on an offensive rebound and those shots helped Tech close the half on a 17-9 run.
Kansas State: Offensive efficiency remains a problem for the Wildcats with Wade out and point guard Kamau Stokes limited by an injury. To avoid a 0-3 start in conference play for the first time since 2015-16, K-State needs more scorers to emerge.
Texas Tech: Winning ugly is becoming a specialty for the Raiders, but their defense gives them an edge against most foes when games play out that way.
Official Rick Crawford had to be helped off the court 90 seconds into the second half after he collided with a player waiting to check in. Crawford appeared woozy as he left the court with two medical personnel assisting him. He did not return. Gerry Pollard and Marques Pettigrew worked as a two-man crew the rest of the way.
Tech standout Jarrett Culver, who struggled against the K-State defense, gave his team a 53-43 lead with 2:21 to go when he hit three free throws. That ended a stretch of five misses in a row in a half when the Raiders hit 15 of 23 from the stripe. Culver was only 2-of-7 shooting but had nine points and seven rebounds.
Kansas State: The Wildcats head back home to take on West Virginia on Wednesday.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders play host to Oklahoma on Tuesday night.