NEW YORK — Short-handed and on a three game losing streak, Texas Tech did not appear suited to beat No. 1 ranked team in the country. But that’s exactly what the Red Raiders did Tuesday night.
Texas Tech shocked No. 1 Louisville 70-57 in Madison Square Garden, winning the Jimmy V Classic. It is the first time in program history that the Red Raiders have knocked off the top-ranked team.
Texas Tech built a first half lead with stifling defense and held on to it down the stretch. Jahmi’us Ramsey was out and his teammates filled in admirably for him, as each rotation player seemingly took turns hitting clutch shots.
Davide Moretti led the way with 18 points. Terrence Shannon scored 13 and Avery Benson chipped in 10 off the bench. But Texas Tech’s defense was even more valuable than the individual scoring.
The Red Raiders held Louisville without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes in the first half, turning a 12-5 deficit into a 25-16 lead in that time. The Cardinals found the range towards the end of the half, but Texas Tech took a 31-28 lead into halftime.
Benson was excellent on both ends in the first half. He got four points from offensive rebounds, knocked down a 3-pointer, drew a charge and rose up for two blocks at the rim in the half.
Louisville’s scorers weren’t able to get separation and were forced into tough shots and turnovers. Louisville’s preseason All-American Jordan Nwora was the primary victim of Texas Tech’s strong defensive half, making just one of his first nine shots and 4-16 overall.
Texas Tech had its hands full down low with center Steven Enoch. The 255-pound brute had 10 points and five rebounds in the first half as seemingly no other Cardinal could get going, but Chris Clarke completely took him out of the game in the second half, denying him the ball in the post. Enoch didn’t score in the second half.
Texas Tech fought hard on the glass, and Clarke out-rebounded Enoch. Clarke’s rebounding is especially valuable because his vision and ball-handling allows him to get the ball up the floor quicker than a traditional forward would. He finished the night with 12 rebounds and six assists.
Texas Tech’s scoring in the game was a group effort. Kyler Edwards got some jumpshots to go, Davide Moretti nailed 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the second half and Clarke hit a huge 3 with the shot clock ticking down.
Up by five with seven minutes remaining, Benson converted a clutch and-one and Terrence Shannon swished a high-arcing jumper. On the other end, the Red Raiders gave up nothing.
Despite three straight losses, Chris Beard preached sticking to his process, which got him to the sport’s title game last season. Tuesday night, Texas Tech showed that the process still works just fine.