Davide Moretti scored 18 points, Terrence Shannon, Jr. added 13 and Avery Benson had a career-high 10 points and two blocked shots to help lead Texas Tech to a 70-57 win over No. 1-ranked Louisville at the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The win was the first over a top-ranked team in Tech’s program history and the eighth top-10 victory under head coach Chris Beard.
Louisville (9-1) became the fourth top-ranked team to lose this season, joining Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke while the Red Raiders (6-3) snapped a three-game losing streak.
“I’m really happy for our players and our program for a lot of reasons,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “At the top of the list of why I’m pleased, is the respect we have for Louisville’s program and coach. I think they’re one of the best teams in college basketball. I’ve watched every game with the players the last two years, and they have that experience factor and talent, and they’re obviously well coached. Tonight, we’re really proud of this victory because we feel like just we played and ultimately beat the scoreboard in a 40 minute game one of the best teams in college basketball. Happy for our guys. This crazy game of basketball – a possession there and possession here. We’re a different team right now. We’ve lost three one possession games, but we’ve just stayed the course.”
Chris Clarke led the Red Raiders with 12 rebounds and six assists, while Kyler Edwards scored nine and TJ Holyfield added eight more. Moretti finished the game 8-for-8 at the free-throw line to go along with hitting two of Tech’s seven 3-pointers in the game. Clarke, who scored seven points, now has four games this season with double-digit rebounds and leads the Red Raiders with 8.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. Moretti is now 32 of 33 at the free-throw line this season and remains the NCAA active leader in the category where he is at 92.2 percent (153-for-166) as a Red Raider. A junior from Italy, Moretti is now averaging 14.2 points per game this season and leads the team with 20 3-pointers.
The Cardinals struggled offensively by shooting 34 percent from the floor and leading scorer Jordan Nwora had only 14 points. Tech’s defense limited UofL to only 3-for-17 shooting from beyond the arc and also forced 19 turnovers.
The Red Raiders played without leading scorer Jahmi’us Ramsey (17.3 points) for the third straight game because of a hamstring injury. The program lost four of their top five scorers off the team that took Virginia to overtime before losing in the 2019 NCAA championship game last season in a NCAA tournament where they knocked off two top-10 teams that were national top seeds.
Moretti buried two straight 3s midway through the second half for an 11-point lead that gave the Red Raiders the space they needed. Clarke hit another 3 for Texas Tech and it went into a timeout with a seven-point lead. Louisville could never make a run, and Nwora was held below his 21.4 scoring average. Louisville missed 3s, layups and generally looked lethargic on offense. Down eight, guard Darius Perry was whistled for a charge in the paint and the unraveling Cards were about out of chances.Terrence Shannon Jr. came down and made a 3 for Texas Tech. The Cardinals missed 20 of 28 shots overall from the floor in the first half and were limited from 3-point range.
Benson, one of only three players back from last year’s team, had the Red Raiders fans going wild with a pair of highlight-reel blocks that stunned the Cards. Benson stuffed Nowra, a player of the year candidate, and then finished the half with a monster rejection off a Lamarr Kimble shot at the horn to send the Red Raiders into halftime up 31-28.
“During the whole game we tried to stay positive,” Benson said. “We came out of the half up three, and we knew we could have played better– and so could Louisville, because once again they’re a really good team. We just wanted to keep going tough the second half and take it each media timeout at a time and turn 20 minutes into four-minute segments and try to build on every four minutes. Win the turnovers, keep playing hard and do our assignments.”
Texas Tech was up 31-28 led by Benson who had seven points at halftime and ended the first half with a blocked shot to end the half. The Red Raiders, who were down 12-5 after an early Louisville run, tied the game at 12-12 and then had a 16-12 lead with an 11-0 run of their own Tech’s largest lead of the first half was nine with a Moretti layup to take the game to 25-16 with 4:57 to play until the break. The lead was cut to one with a minute to play before a Shannon layup had it at 31-28 with 57 seconds remaining. The first half ended with Lamarr Kimble having his layup attempt blocked by Benson who had not had a block through the first eight games.
Benson, who scored the first points of the game for the Red Raiders to cut into an early 4-0 deficit with a 3-pointer, was 2-for-2 from the field and also had two rebounds at halftime. Moretti was at six points, while Edwards had five and Shannon four. The Red Raiders were only 3-for-15 on 3-pointers after the opening 20 minutes but had held the Cardinals to 2-for-9 on 3-pointers and to 8-for-28 from the field (28.6 percent). Enoch led Louisville with 10 points and three rebounds at the break.The Garden saw its share of top teams since the season opened: Michigan State in the Champions Classic and Duke in the 2K Empire Classic also were No. 1 in the AP poll in games played at MSG. They aren’t No. 1 anymore — and by Monday’s poll, the Cardinals should be knocked off the perch.
“We just played better tonight,” Beard said. “We played on a Monday night a few months ago in April. We’re a good program and we’re worthy. We’ve got good players. We work really hard. We respect everybody, but we don’t fear anyone.”