McCullar, Texas Tech beat Notre Dame 59-53 to reach Sweet 16

Mar 20, 2022, 6:59 AM | Updated: 8:53 pm
Texas Tech guard Kevin McCullar (15) shoots over Notre Dame forward Paul Atkinson Jr. (20) during t...

Texas Tech guard Kevin McCullar (15) shoots over Notre Dame forward Paul Atkinson Jr. (20) during the first half of a second-round NCAA college basketball tournament game, Sunday, March 20, 2022, San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — With a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line, Texas Tech’s swarming defense won out over Notre Dame’s vaunted 3-point shooting.

It certainly wasn’t artistic, and that’s OK with the Red Raiders, the top defensive team in the country.

No. 3 seed Texas Tech relied on stops and free throws during a closing 10-1 run that carried it to a 59-53 victory over the 11th-seeded Fighting Irish on Sunday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“We have the mindset of not going home,” said forward Kevin Obanor, who hit two go-ahead free throws with 1:10 left and finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

It was such a workmanlike performance by the bigger, stronger Red Raiders that they won despite making one of their final 11 field goals. That was an emphatic dunk by Kevin McCullar with 15 seconds left.

“This is a March game. I’m so excited right now I can’t put it into words,” McCullar said. “It came down to defense. We knew we needed to get stops against a really good Notre Dame team. That’s what we ended up doing. And we hit some big free throws.”

McCullar and Bryson Williams each scored 14 points for Texas Tech (27-9), which made its third round of 16 in the past four tournaments and fifth in school history. The Red Raiders, under first-year coach Mark Adams, will face second-seeded Duke and retiring 42nd-year coach Mike Krzyzewski in the West Region semifinals Thursday in San Francisco.

Dane Goodwin scored 14 points for 11th-seeded Notre Dame (24-11), which led 52-49 with just over two minutes left. But the Fighting Irish didn’t make a field goal in the last three minutes and Texas Tech made eight straight free throws in the last 1:56, none more important than Obanor’s that made it 53-52 with 1:10 left.

Notre Dame had two turnovers in the final minute. Cormac Ryan was held to nine points after scoring a career-high 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, in a 78-64 win over Alabama in the first round.

McCullar’s slam ended a field goal drought of seven minutes for Texas Tech. He hit a 3-pointer with 7:17 to go, and from there, free throws were somehow enough.

“They’re really gifted and they are a great defensive team,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

The Fighting Irish were playing their third game in five days. They beat Rutgers in double overtime in a First Four game late Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, and took a redeye to San Diego.

Notre Dame made 9 of 28 3-pointers, the last with about five minutes left, by Goodwin, for a 48-47 lead.

“We needed 11. We needed double digits,” Brey said. “And I thought when we got going in the second half … we were going to have to drive. That’s why we went four guards the second half. We were driving and kicking. And we had to make 11 or 12 (3s) to win.”

Notre Dame was 15-1 this season when hitting double-digit 3-pointers.

“We were emphasizing it the whole game,” McCullar said. “They’re a really good-shooting team. We knew down the stretch that we had to eliminate that or the game probably wouldn’t have went our way.

“We made some big time plays on the defensive end,” he added “It was just our will. We didn’t want to send the seniors home yet. We want to keep playing basketball as long as we can and try to make a run at this thing. We’re so close and we buckled down.”

RECENT HISTORY

Texas Tech reached the Sweet 16 in 2018 and beat Purdue before losing by 12 points to eventual national champion Villanova in the regional final. The Red Raiders reached the national championship game in 2019 and lost to Virginia, 85-77 in overtime.

QUOTABLE

Asked what 1979 Texas Tech graduate Mark Adams would say to 2022 Texas Tech head coach Mark Adams about making the Sweet 16, Adams said: “I’d say dream big dreams and don’t ever give up on your dreams because there’s a certain time in my life when I was winning at certain levels and I thought I was the next John Wooden. And I was the only one in the room that thought that.”

MOTIVATION

The Red Raiders huddled up with less than a minute to go and Obanor said the Red Raiders were telling each other: “‘Are you trying to go home?’ No way to sugarcoat it. ‘Are you trying to go home?’ We just had that mindset to continue to play and we came out victorious.”

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame shot 25% in the first half, including 31.3% from the 3-point line. The Fighting Irish airballed three 3-pointers. Notre Dame went scoreless during a six-minute stretch early in the half, but Texas Tech couldn’t take advantage and led 26-25 at halftime.

Texas Tech’s Williams gets to continue to play in his home state. He started his career in his hometown with Fresno State before transferring to UTEP and then Texas Tech.

___

More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

10 mountaineers killed after avalanche in northern India

NEW DELHI (AP) — At least 10 trainee mountaineers died Tuesday after being swept away by an avalanche in the Himalayas in northern India, media reports said, as rescuers searched for 11 others missing. A group of 29 people was hit by an avalanche on a mountain peak located in the Gangotri range of the […]
1 day ago
People offer prayers near the statue of a lion, the mascot of Arema FC, outside Kanjuruhan Stadium ...
Associated Press

Indonesia police: Stadium exit gates too small for escape

MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — The gates at the Indonesian soccer stadium where police fired tear gas that set off a deadly crush were too small and could only accommodate two at a time when hundreds were trying to escape, police investigators said Tuesday. Photos from the Malang stadium where 125 people died and hundreds were […]
1 day ago
FILE - Workers walk to the Lusail Stadium, one of the 2022 World Cup stadiums, in Lusail, Qatar, Fr...
Associated Press

Paris joins in TV boycott of World Cup games from Qatar

PARIS (AP) — Paris will not broadcast World Cup matches on giant screens in public fan zones amid concerns over rights violations of migrant workers and the environmental impact of the tournament in Qatar. It follows similar moves by other French cities, despite France going in as the defending champion. “There is the problem of […]
1 day ago
Kadokawa Corp. Chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa speaks to reporters in Tokyo on Sept. 5, 2022. Kadokawa ...
Associated Press

Publishing executive charged in Tokyo Olympic bribes scandal

TOKYO (AP) — A top executive at a major Japanese publisher was charged Tuesday with bribing a former Tokyo Olympics organizing committee member. The charges against Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, a major figure in Japan’s movie and entertainment industry, are the latest in the unfolding corruption scandal related to last year’s Tokyo Summer Games. Kadokawa was arrested […]
1 day ago
Serbia's coach Marina Malkovic, right, talks with a referee during their game against Mali at the w...
Associated Press

Women to get more rest between hoop games at next World Cup

SYDNEY (AP) — Players at this year’s World Cup had a few concerns about the competition, including the compact schedule and the timing of the tournament, and the women took their complaints right to the top. FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis talked with many of the players during the course of the recently competed tournament. […]
1 day ago
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) misses a catch during the first half of an NFL fo...
Associated Press

Analysis: NFL isn’t passing the eye test on head injuries

What happened in Tampa was the last thing the NFL, its players and its fanbase needed three days after Tua Tagovailoa’s horrifying head injury called into question the league’s commitment to curbing concussions. Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate sat out the second half of Sunday night’s 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a […]
1 day ago
McCullar, Texas Tech beat Notre Dame 59-53 to reach Sweet 16