With 9:55 remaining in Wednesday’s game, a Jahmi’us Ramsey pass hit the unsuspecting Davide Moretti in the back. Kansas State’s Cartier Diarra scooped up the ball and glided down the open floor for an uncontested dunk. Two points would tie the game.
Texas Tech was in danger of losing to a last-place Big 12 team for the second straight game.
But Diarra went up for a windmill dunk and it bounced off the rim. Kyler Edwards got the rebound and passed it ahead to Moretti, who made a 3-pointer.
The play lit a spark under Texas Tech (17-9, 8-5 Big 12), and the Red Raiders closed out a win.
“I think the game changed right there,” Moretti said. “I thought that was the crucial moment of the game.”
For the second straight game, the Red Raiders had trouble closing out a team in the conference cellar. They turned it over and allowed inside looks, as Kansas State crept back from a first half deficit.
The Wildcats never tied the game, though Diarra’s dunk would’ve, had he finished it.
Two Antonio Gordon 3s cut Texas Tech’s lead to five points late, put Ramsey ran free for a dunk on a press break. Unlike Diarra, he finished with a safe, two-handed dunk that went through the rim cleanly.
Kevin McCullar made his first start of the season and made his impact felt immediately, grabbing an offensive rebound and finishing an and-one on the game’s first possession. He scored Texas Tech’s first five points, helping them build an early lead.
McCullar finished the night with nine points, and perhaps most importantly, four steals.
“Tonight the story was that he deserved the opportunity to start because of the way he’s been playing,” Chris Beard said. “And most specifically the guy plays defense.”
After Kansas State tied the game with fastbreak scores off turnovers, Davide Moretti and Jahmi’us Ramsey hit back-to-back 3s, giving the Red Raiders a six-point lead with 12:10 remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats mucked up the game and hung around in the first half and early second. Texas Tech turned the ball over 18 times, unable to build on an early lead until the game neared its conclusion.
The Red Raiders got a tough whistle in the first half. Avery Benson was knocked to the floor on a 3-pointer and McCullar was tripped in the lane, losing the ball. There was not a foul called in either situation.
Kansas State’s Antonio Gordon scored twice in the final minute to cut the deficit to three before halftime.
Texas Tech did not shoot the ball poorly, but its offense never clicked to the point where it got easy shots. Lots of the team’s makes came off of time-consuming possession that the Red Raiders had to grind out.
Moretti, Edwards and Ramsey each took turns hitting shots to keep Texas Tech ahead for most of the game. None of the three was at his best, but each scored at least 14 points. Moretti led the way with 18.
On the other end, the Red Raiders held an offensively, challenged Kansas State team in check. The Wildcats got some good looks, but made just four 3-pointers and did much of their damage in transition.
The Red Raiders have been overall solid at home in Big 12 play, winning every game in Uniter Supermarkets Arena since their second game of conference play, a loss to Baylor.
They have to go on the road for their next two games, however. They’ll take on Iowa State in Ames Saturday before playing at Oklahoma on Tuesday.