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Spartans Fall Short Against Texas Tech In Final Four

Cassius Winston and Zavier Tillman’s underwhelming performances prove too much for the Spartans to overcome

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Semifinals-Michigan State vs Texas Tech Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans fell short of a 2019 NCAA Championship game berth when they lost to the overpowering Texas Tech Red Raiders Saturday at the Final Four 61-51.

Chris Beard’s Texas Tech team was able to lead for majority of this contest. With only six lead changes all game—all within the first 12 minutes—Michigan State tried to battle back and keep things close, but Matt Mooney and the Red Raider offense were too much to handle for Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

Mooney led the charge for Texas Tech with a total of 22 points—12 of them from them from the three-point line as Mooney was a huge part of the hot streak that put Texas Tech up big halfway through the second half.

At 13:50 minutes left to play in the game, Michigan State only trailed by five points. But, a 14-4 run led by a Mooney layup and two three pointers put the Red Raiders up thirteen with 9:40 to play in the game.

This game was easily Mooney’s best performance of the tournament nearly doubling his scoring average. Also, with the already expected contributing play from Jarrett Culver with ten points, the Red Raiders were able to sit back and enjoy the show under their new ace.

Mooney hasn’t been quite during the NCAA Tournament, but he sure hasn’t been this loud. Continued confident play into the championship game Monday night could be a secret weapon for Texas Tech.

Culver—a player perceived to matchup similarly to Michigan State’s Cassius Winston scored an under average 10 points to go along with five rebounds, two assists and an uncharacteristic three turnovers.

While Texas Tech usually averages 12 turnovers and their team total was 7, handling the ball well and limiting Michigan State steals was another big contributor to their win.

But, if one were to only look at Jarrett Culver’s stat line, there might be a different guess at the final outcome.

Similarly, to Culver, Cassius Winston’s stat line didn’t quite meet up to par.

Winston scored an under average 16 points, two rebounds and two assists with four turnovers. Again, another lacking stat line from Michigan State’s top producer that Texas Tech was able to shut down.

The only difference between Culver’s performance and Winston’s is that Culver had a teammate or two to pick him up when he was down. Unfortunately for Michigan State, what was truly detrimental to their game was the lack of depth.

With only five players scoring for Michigan State compared to Texas Tech’s seven, the most surprising of all of them was a player that didn’t score at all.

Michigan State senior Kenny Goins usually averages just under eight points a game and just under nine rebounds a game. While going for eight rebounds, Goins was held scoreless in his swan song as a Spartan.

The other player Tom Izzo really needed to step up in this game was Zavier Tillman. Tillman scored only seven points compared to his ten-point average.

After coming of off a 19-point performance that was a huge key to the Spartans win over Duke, Tillman’s performance was underwhelming.

At the end of the day, these two similar teams matched up well against each other, but in the subpar performances from their star players, it was going to be the performance of the next man up to win the game.

For Texas Tech Matt Mooney’s dominant three-point shooting is why Texas Tech will play for a national championship Monday and Michigan State will go home heartbroken.