Let's throw a party in Lubbock.
For the first time ever, the Texas Tech Red Raiders are Final Four bound.
Chris Beard’s side defeated the No. 1 seed in the West Region, Gonzaga, 75-69, on Saturday night in Anaheim, California.
The game was tight was start to finish. The largest lead either team had was six points, and it didn’t come until the Red Raiders pulled away by that much with 1:04 to play in the seconds half. In all, the lead changed 12 times.
Texas Tech’s victory makes them the third Big 12 team since 2016 to make the Final Four. Oklahoma went in 2016 and Kansas went last season.
How Texas Tech beat Gonzaga to make the Final Four
Zags cold in the second half
By nearly every metric, Gonzaga had the best offense in the country this season. They scored the most points, made the most field goals, had the highest effective field goal percentage, the best true shooting percentage, the top offensive rating, and the most efficient offense, per KenPom.
But in the second half of this game, the Zags went cold. From the 11:58 mark to the 5:38 mark, Gonzaga missed five shots and a free throw, and turned the ball over four times. It shot 36.4 percent from the floor in the second half and just 20 percent from behind the arc.
The loss denied the Bulldogs their second Final Four appearance in three seasons. Gonzaga is the second No. 1 seed to be sent home in the NCAA tournament, joining the Midwest Region’s top seed, North Carolina, which lost Friday in the Sweet 16 to Auburn.
Gonzaga getting open looks from 3 but they're not falling this half. They're 1 for 7. That's the game right there because Texas Tech isn't going to budget inside. Gonzaga has to figure it out and Texas Tech has to maintain the pressure around the rim.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) March 30, 2019
Gonzaga just 8-for-25 from the floor this half. Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell are a combined 2-for-10.— Brian Hamilton (@_Brian_Hamilton) March 31, 2019
Defense crucial for Texas Tech
While Gonzaga missed plenty of open looks, the Bulldogs were also frustrated by the Red Raiders’ defense, which is No. 1 in the country per KenPom. The Red Raiders have allowed opponents to make just 36.7 percent of their shots just season, the top mark in the country.
Texas Tech tallied seven blocks and nine steals in this game and forced Gonzaga into 16 turnovers. Texas Tech scored 17 points off those turnovers. The 69 points is the lowest Gonzaga has scored in a single game in this NCAA tournament.
Big games from Texas Tech stars
When the Red Raiders needed them the most, their stars rose to the challenge.
Jarrett Culver led the team in scoring with 19 points to go along with five rebounds, two assists and three steals. Matt Mooney had 17 points, five assists and three steals. Davide Moretti tallied 12 points, and connected on a 3-pointer with 1:50 to play to give the Red Raiders a six-point lead.
Viva la Moretti!— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 31, 2019
Moretti! Dagger!— Cameron Newton (@morrisoncrying) March 31, 2019
Tariq Owens was important too, notching five blocks. Culver and Moretti each sank two free throws in the final 12 seconds of the game to put Gonzaga away for good.
The Red Raiders will face the winner of Michigan State and Duke in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.