LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech junior Davide Moretti scored 19 points with four 3-pointers and Chris Clarke pulled down 12 rebounds and had four assists to help lead the No. 12 Red Raiders to a 72-57 non-conference win over Tennessee State on Thursday at the United Supermarkets Arena.
The Red Raiders (4-0) extended their non-conference home winning streak to 50 games after pulling away in the second half with an 11-0 run and limiting the Tigers (3-2) to only 35.3 percent shooting in the game. Tech, which led 27-22 at halftime, was 32-for-38 at the free-throw line in the win and limited its turnovers to 13.
"You know I did like our poise," Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. "We found ourselves in a battle, right? They hit that three going into halftime, we're down five, we haven't really been in this situation yet. A lot of positives come from this. We would much rather learn lessons after a victory rather than a defeat. There are people that say 'the best lessons come after losses', I respectfully disagree. People can learn through success. I like the fact that we had a close game tonight. We had to make some tough plays and we had valuable timeouts and we had some guys step up. Those young guys got a taste of what the next three or four months will be like."
Texas Tech will return to action at 1 p.m. on Sunday against Long Island at the USA before traveling to Las Vegas next week. The Red Raiders, who are now 3-0 at home this season and 53-5 under Beard, started its 50-game non-conference home winning streak with a 100-69 win over Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 30, 2013.
Moretti scored his season-high 19 points after going 4-for-7 on 3-pointers along with knocking down all three of his free-throw attempts. He is now 11-for-11 at the line this season and leads the team with 10 3s through four games. Clarke didn't score in the game but continued making an impact, securing 12 rebounds and assisting on four baskets. Terrence Shannon, Jr. and Jahmi'us Ramsey each had 13 and Kyler Edwards added 10 to give the Red Raiders four double-figure scorers in the game.
Moretti has scored in double figures in all four games this season and is now averaging 14.3 points per game, while Ramsey leads the team with 17.5 points per game and has also scored in double figures in the first four games of his collegiate career. Edwards, who was coming off a 15-point performance against Houston Baptist last Wednesday, finished the game 8-for-8 at the free-throw line and Shannon was 7-for-8 at the line. Ramsey and Shannon also both had seven rebounds from the starting lineup. Kevin McCullar led the Tech reserves with seven points after going 2-for-2 from the field and 3-for-6 at the line for his career-high scoring performance. TJ Holyfield added eight points in only 14 minutes after getting into early foul trouble.
"Davide has turned himself into one of the best players in college basketball," Beard said. "It started with him staying the course as a freshman. There was a lot of challenge to him physically. He was on a team that made the elite-eight. He waited his time. He was a good teammate on nights when he didn't get to play as much as he wanted. He was real tough, no bad body language or sulking for Moro. He is a pros pro. He worked at his craft and decided he wanted to be an All-Big 12 player. My confidence in Moro comes from the fact that I trust him."
Tennessee State never led in the game but pulled to within 30-28 three minutes into the second half and was within striking distance at 35-32 with 14:20 remaining. The Red Raiders would start adding to their lead at that point though with Moretti drilling back-to-back 3-pointers for a 43-35 lead. A TSU basket at the 10:36 mark took it back to an eight-point margin but would be the starting point to an 11-0 run that started with a Shannon free throw and included a Shannon 3-pointer, six free throws and a Ramsey layup. The run gave the Red Raiders a 19-point advantage and a lead that never went under 13 points.
Texas Tech led 27-22 at halftime with Edwards, Shannon, Ramsey and Moretti each having six points, while McCullar had three. The Red Raiders, who were 11-for-13 at the free-throw line, were limited to only 26.9 percent shooting after going 7-for-26 from the field including 2-for-12 on 3-pointers. Tech had six turnovers at halftime, but were up five after limiting the Tigers to only 5-for-20 shooting from the field and 3-for-12 on 3-pointers. Edwards was 6-for-6 at the line and Shannon went 3-for-4 on his free-throw attempts. Ramsey and Clarke each had five rebounds for the Red Raiders who held a 19-17 rebounding advantage at the break. Clarke, who also had two assists, led the team with three offensive rebounds through the opening 20 minutes of play. Tech, which didn't trail throughout the first half, has now led at halftime in each of the first four games of the season.
The Red Raiders will host LIU on Sunday in the second game of the regional round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational before traveling to Las Vegas next week. Tech will take on Iowa at 7 p.m. (CST) on Thanksgiving Day before playing either Creighton or San Diego State on Friday, Nov. 29 at the Orleans Arena.
Davide Moretti, Texas Tech Guard
On the biggest takeaway from this game:
"We can't take any team for granted, they were a good team. We just had to know we were going to face a lot more teams like them. We just have to prepare like we did this game and I think we did a pretty good game overall."
On how the team is coming together on the court:
"We are going the right way, games like this are going to help you. We face some diversity in this game, we bounce back in a positive way. We have a lot of mistakes and we are going to work on it tomorrow. I think we respond pretty well."
On feeling like you needed to be the leader of the team:
"I was ready. I was trying to get the ball late and I feel like my teammates were looking for me. I think I was ready for it and like I said I have been working on it. Sometimes I feel like late shot clock I had my opportunities to help my teammates or get a shot for myself. Like I said I have been working on it, I'm glad to show it tonight."
Chris Beard, Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach
On the first stat he looks at when the game is over:
"Turnovers, rebounds, free throw shooting. So, tonight turnovers still aren't where we want them to be, little bit of improvement but that's not going to get it done as we go on. Obviously rebounding, I was really disappointed in our offensive rebounding tonight, when you have a shooting night like we did tonight this happens, but you have to go get your share. We won the game tonight on the free throw line, you got to give our gives some credit, step up their and hitting a good percentage, over 80% we showed some poise and composure when things got a little crazy out there stayed away from the temptation to get involved in anything that could lead to a technical. I thought our free throw shooting won the game for us tonight, on a night when a lot of other things just weren't good enough."
Asked about Tennessee state on-ball quickness:
"I said all week long as we prepared for this game and talking to you guys, this is a big 12 team in terms of their two guards, 0 and 1 are very quick, this is Big 12 speed and they have their length and athleticism on the perimeter, so I thought by far this is the most athletic team we have played, took a little while to adjust to that. I just didn't think we ever got into a flow offensively. We would have a couple good possessions and then kick ourselves in the foot, we would have a couple good possessions and then they would make a good play, you have to give them credit because we just never got into a flow where we had any kind of consistency with our offense."
On Tech's intensity tonight:
"Yeah, it is a given. I mean it is what you are supposed to do when you play at this level. If you wear the double T, that guys like J Jackson wore, I mean you play hard around here. Tonight, I thought that a couple of time that Tennessee State played harder than us. We had a nice conversation about that at halftime, and our second half intensity was better. I thought both teams played really hard tonight. You have to give credit to the defenses for the bad shooting night."
On the final stretch of the game:
"We're still a work in progress. I thought tonight, Tennessee State played a lot of small-ball. At times they didn't have a lot of back-the-basket players. You got to make coaching decisions, and you hope those decisions will lead you to victory. I would've liked to play Dre and Russell a bit more tonight, but that's not what this game presented. As coaches you have to make decisions and we're just fortunate they led us to a victory. Everybody on the active roster is game and they're ready. We're nowhere near getting this rotation down. Mac took advantage of his opportunity tonight and played some good minutes. I liked Clarence's attitude, hanging in there and making some tough plays when his number was called. We're still wide open and there's a lot of competition on our roster.
On Joel Ntambwe being ruled ineligible for this season by the NCAA:
"I'm really disappointed for Joel. It's not my place to put the case out into the public light, but I would tell you that he had a more than legitimate case on why he transferred from his first institution, which was out of his control. I know to never get a technical foul because it would hurt the team, but sometimes you have to go and get a tech to stick up for your players and fight for them. Nobody's respected the NCAA more than me through my whole career. I respect that everybody has a job to do, but this was just puzzling because it's so inconsistent. To me, it effects our team because some teams will be better and possibly make the tournament because a certain player is allowed to play. There's some teams that will miss out on that opportunity because a player was not allowed to play. I think there just needs to be a more clear process. In just my opinion, I'm not speaking for Kirby or President Schovanec, but just in my opinion I fell terrible for Joel and I don't understand why he wasn't given the opportunity to play college basketball this year. But, hard times pass, tough people last, and we're going to get in the gym with him and here in about three hundred and forty-something days, hopefully we will have him on opening night in the double-t playing great next year. Thanks.