Texas Tech is in the Elite 8 for the second-consecutive season.
The third-seeded Red Raiders absolutely dominated No. 2 Michigan in a 63-44 victory in Anaheim on Thursday to once again be on the doorstep of the Final Four.
Chris Beard’s top-ranked defense looked as formidable as ever as Michigan, a top-20 offense, had no answer for the Red Raiders’ scheme. The Wolverines shot 32.7 percent from the floor for the game and were an astonishing 1 of 19 from 3-point range – and that one make came with 21.8 seconds left in the game.
“I feel like we stayed true to ourselves. We played the defense we’ve been playing all year and their shots wasn’t going in,” Jarrett Culver said after the game. “We had urgency. We knew they had great players that could shoot the ball pretty well. So urgency and staying true to our defense.”
Michigan turned it over 14 times while making just 16 shots. Iggy Brazdeikis scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds in a rare bright spot on the night.
“Watching Michigan it’s been like a coaching clinic. I have an old school spiral that I used. Im not really an iPad guy. I have a red pen, black pen, old school spirals, and on the back of the page before I write notes for us basically to steal things from other people,” Beard said. “During the off-season I will go back and add things and my whole notebook is filled with red because Michigan is so well-coached and Coach Beilein does such a great job.
“We knew they were going to exploit our pick-and-roll switch and going inside and come out and do some things different and you just try and do things to help your guys and at halftime we made a few adjustments.”
The Red Raiders had never been to an Elite 8 in the program’s history, and now Beard has gotten them there twice in three years. He’s done it with two different rosters, too, with Culver really the lone holdover – and he was clearly the third option in 2018 behind Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith. It’s been remarkable work in Lubbock by Beard, who will almost certainly be mentioned among every top job that opens in the foreseeable future. He’s having that kind of success out in west Texas.
“You’ve got to give the guys credit. A lot has been made of the culture, but it’s these guys,” Beard said. “The first thing in recruiting is making sure they can play in the Big 12, and it’s a talent business. We do really good with guys that love to play. Last night we went to a local high school and got shots up and just played shooting games and stuff and some of the younger coaches on the stuff want to keep their legs. Is this too much? No, this is us.
“We made Jarrett Culver go to bed when we got back, but everybody loves to “hoop.” We have a culture that is based on guys that love the game and love each other.”
Culver finished with 22 points on 9 of 19 shooting while Davide Moretti had 15 and Matt Mooney 10.
It’s a disappointing out for the Wolverines, who looked like a favorite to return to the Final Four for a second-consecutive year after opening the season with 17-straight wins. Instead, they missed out on a Big Ten regular-season title, a conference tournament title and saw their season halted in the Sweet 16.
Texas Tech will face top-seeded Gonzaga – the No. 1 defense vs. the No. 1 offense – on Saturday with the winner moving on to Minneapolis.
“Their passion, their togetherness, their courage, thousand aggressive they are, at this point I’m a fan (of Gonzaga),” Beard said, “and here in the next hour or so I’ve got to flip that and start to get ready to try to prepare against them. I can say this early on no one has more respect for Gonzaga than I do personally and our program.”