TULSA, Oklahoma – No. 3 Texas Tech is heading back to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season after locking down a 78-58 win over No. 6 Buffalo with Norense Odiase and Jarrett Culver both recording double-doubles and the defense holding the Bulls to 30 points below their season scoring average on Sunday at the BOK Center.
“We’re not supposed to be here,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “They picked up bottom of the Big 12 and haven’t gotten much respect this year, but these guys have continued to keep a chip on their shoulder and just realize that we can do a lot of things if we play as a team. I thought that’s what we did tonight, we guarded at a high level. Had different guys step up offensively until the game got all sloppily late but one of our cleaner games this year. Texas Tech basketball the story this year is team. Play for the guy next to us. I’ve never been more proud of a team I coached.”
The Red Raiders (28-6) will now take on Michigan at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Thursday in the Sweet 16 with a time and network to be announced. The 28 wins by the Red Raiders are now the second most in a season in program history behind only the 1995-96 team that went 30-2 and advanced to the Sweet 16. The program returns to the NCAA Sweet 16 round for the second straight year and for the fourth time in program history (1996, 2005, 2018, 2019) since the tournament expanded to 64 teams and are in the regional round of 16 for the seventh time overall. Buffalo’s season ends with a 32-4 overall record.
Odiase established a new Texas Tech tournament record by securing 15 rebounds and added a season-high 14 points. The 15 rebounds were a career-high and is the sixth time this season he’s recorded 10 or more rebounds. Culver produced his fourth double-double of the season by leading the Red Raiders with 16 points and having 10 rebounds. A sophomore from Lubbock, Culver led Tech with 29 points in their first-round win over Northern Kentucky and would also add five assists and two steals in the win over the Bulls.
“That’s the process that everyday the grind is thinking about that game, trying to get back the that level with a new team, a new team that nobody thought they could get to that level,” Odiase said. “We’re proving it so far. We’ve got to keep going.The process got us here and the process will take us as far as we need to go. That’s all it’s been.”
Tech’s defense held the Bulls to 0-for-9 shooting to start the second half before they would make their first shot eight minutes into the half. By that time, the Red Raiders owned a 53-30 lead in a game that was close in the first half but never resembled that again in the second half. The Bulls were limited to 36.5 percent shooting in the game after coming into the night shooting 46.4 percent from the field and averaging 85.1 points per game.
Tariq Owens had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Red Raiders in the game with him and Odiase both going 4-for-4 from the field, while Matt Mooney and Davide Moretti added 11 each. The Red Raiders shot 48.2 percent from the field and were 19-for-25 from the free-throw line in the win.
Texas Tech had a 33-25 lead at halftime after ending the opening half on a 9-0 run after starting it on a 6-0 run. The Red Raiders, who held Buffalo to its halftime-low this season, led by as many as 13 in the half before Buffalo took a brief lead at 25-24 that was followed by the 9-0 run that started on an Owens layup and included a 3-pointer by Mooney that gave the Red Raiders a 32-25 lead with 1:38 remaining in the half. The Red Raiders regained a 13-point lead they once had in the first half three minutes into the second half with a layup by Odiase and led 45-28 on a Mooney jumper and then by 20 with Culver hitting a 3-pointer. Tech would take a 26 point lead with freshman Kyler Edwards hitting 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions and were up 70-42 with 6:17 remaining when Culver hit a jumper.
Tech was 7-for-9 from the free-throw line in the first half, including going 4-for-4 during the final 9-0 run with Moretti and Culver each hitting two each. Culver led the Red Raider with eight points at halftime and also had five rebounds and two blocked shots, while Odiase had nine rebounds with four coming on the offensive end. Odiase also had five points with four coming at the free-throw line, while Owens had six points and Mooney five as the team took the eight-point lead into the break where they owned a 23-15 rebounding advantage.
Texas Tech started the game on a 6-0 run and led 10-2 at the first media timeout with Culver and Odiase leading with four points each at the time. The Red Raiders had four offensive rebounds within the first four minutes where they had started the second straight game in Tulsa on a 6-0 run. Culver would give the Red Raiders their first double-digit lead of the game with a jumper eight minutes in to push the score to 16-6, a lead that grew to 19-6 on a Corprew 3-pointer a minute later. Buffalo would get back into the game with a 9-1 that was capped by a Davonta Jordan 3-pointer that made it 20-15 before a layup by Mooney gave the Red Raiders a 22-15 advantage with eight minutes to play in the opening half. Buffalo took its first lead of the game at 25-24 on a 3-pointer from Jordan at 3:24 before a basket by Owens gave Tech the lead back on the other end.
At the halftime, Texas Tech had limited Buffalo to 36 percent shooting and to only 3-for-10 from beyond the arc. The Red Raiders were shooting 41.4 percent and were 7-for-9 at the free-throw line, but also struggled by going 2-for-9 on 3-pointers. Tech had six assists on 12 baskets in the opening half.
UP NEXT: The Red Raiders own a 2-0 all-time advantage in the series against Michigan with a 59-58 win in 1983 and an 87-85 win in 1978 in a pair of games played in El Paso. The Wolverines advanced to Anaheim after a 74-55 first-round win over No. 15 Montana before securing their Sweet 16 spot with a 64-49 victory over No. 10 Florida on Saturday. Michigan has advanced to three straight Sweet 16s and 16 in its program history. The time and network for the Tech-Michigan matchup are to be announced.