McCullar, Texas Tech beat Notre Dame 59-53 to reach Sweet 16

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Kevin McCullar made an emphatic dunk with 15 seconds left to cap a 10-1 closing run for No. 3 seed Texas Tech, which advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 59-53 victory over Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

Kevin Obanor had 15 points and 15 rebounds, and McKullar and Bryson Williams each scored 14 for Texas Tech (27-9), which made its third round of 16 in the past four tournaments and fifth in school history. The Red Raiders, under first-year coach Mark Adams, will face second-seeded Duke and retiring 42nd-year coach Mike Krzyzewski in the West Region semifinals Thursday in San Francisco.

Dane Goodwin scored 14 points for 11th-seeded Notre Dame (24-11), which led 52-49 with just over two minutes left. But the Fighting Irish didn’t make a field goal in the last three minutes and Texas Tech made eight straight free throws in the last 1:56, including two by Obanor that put the Red Raiders ahead 53-52 with 1:10 left.

Notre Dame had two turnovers in the final minute. Cormac Ryan was held to nine points after scoring a career-high 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, in a 78-64 win over Alabama in the first round.

McCullar’s slam ended a field goal drought of seven minutes for Texas Tech. He hit a 3-pointer with 7:17 to go, and from there, free throws were somehow enough.

The Fighting Irish were playing their third game in five days. They beat Rutgers in double overtime in a First Four game late Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, and took a redeye to San Diego.

Texas Tech led 26-25 at halftime. Notre Dame shot 25% in the half, including 31.3% from the 3-point line. The Fighting Irish airballed three 3-pointers. Notre Dame went scoreless during a six-minute stretch early in the first half, but Texas Tech couldn’t take advantage.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame shot only 32.7% overall and 32.1% from 3-point range. Blake Wesley had 11 points.

Texas Tech’s Williams gets to play in his home state. He started his career in his hometown with Fresno State before transferring to UTEP and then Texas Tech.