ANAHEIM, Calif. — It wasn't a pretty game from a fan perspective, but one that Texas Tech is more than happy to participate in.
The No. 9 Red Raiders thrive in low-scoring affairs and a Sweet 16 matchup Thursday night against No. 8 Michigan was exactly that inside the Honda Center.
And while the teams combined for 14 points halfway through the first half, Texas Tech found its spark in the form of a familiar face.
Davide Moretti — who was playing in front of his father, Paolo, mother, Mariolina, and brother, Niccolò — scored seven first-half points on the way to a total 15 to aid Texas Tech to a resounding 63-44 victory over the Wolverines. Jarrett Culver added 22 points, as well.
Texas Tech sophomore Davide Moretti speaks following the win. pic.twitter.com/ELQigD5YgQ
— Carlos Silva Jr. (@cmsilvajr) March 29, 2019
"It's amazing man because I wanted, so bad, for my brother to see me play with Texas Tech so he could live the moment with me," Moretti said of his brother, known as "Lil Moro," who he would call and describe his games to on a weekly basis. "I want to ask him what he saw and all the details that I was used to describing to him. ... Just to have a deep conversation is going to be special.
"I can't believe they were able to come for the next few days to see my play. Just unbelievable."
The Red Raiders (29-6) — picked by Big 12 coaches to finish seventh in the conference — advanced to their second straight Elite Eight under coach Chris Beard.
Tech led 24-16 at halftime and 29-18 early in the second half. Then the Red Raiders made a 14-6 run that started with Moretti sending a pass Tariq Owens' way for an alley-oop dunk. A 3 from Moretti and another dunk from Owens off a feed from Jarrett Culver made it 36-18, and the Red Raiders were on their way to another win, Tech style.
Culver erupted for nine in less than 2 1/2 minutes midway through the second half that made it 50-29. And a Matt Mooney 3 increased the lead to 56-31 with eight minutes left.
Michigan (30-7) had no answer, finishing 1 of 19 from 3-point range and having one of the worst scoring nights for a No. 2 seed in NCAA Tournament history.
And for as good as the Red Raiders were on the defensive end, they committed only seven turnovers on the offensive end.
Slideshow: Texas Tech wins 63-44 against Michigan to advance to the Elite 8. https://t.co/bLLkZ4TwEf pic.twitter.com/00DCUXuGrJ
— Brad Tollefson (@Brad_Tollefson) March 29, 2019
Much of the credit can be attributed to Texas Tech playing solid defense early and continuing to drive the lane and take shots within its offense early on despite not seeing the ball going into the basket.
Culver ended a seven-minute scoring drought and provided the Red Raiders with a 6-4 advantage with seven minutes elapsed in the first half.
The Wolverines answered with a Charles Matthews layup to knot up the game at 6-6, but Texas Tech found its rhythm.
Moretti, who checked back into the game with two fouls, provided a small spark by hitting the first 3 of the game from the left side to give the Red Raiders an 11-6 lead with 8:21 before halftime.
"Big shot, I thought it gave us a little separation," said Mooney, who finished with 10 points. "I looked up and it was 6-6 with like 10 minutes into the game. I thought it be a record for lowest-scoring NCAA Tournament game ever."
From that point on, Texas Tech forged an 18-10 run on the way to a 24-16 lead at the break.
The Red Raiders limited Michigan — which went 0-for-13 on jump shots — to a season-low in points and limited their fourth opponent to under 20 points by halftime.
"We got to play with a chip on our shoulder and just grind away," Mooney said. "Top two defenses in the country going at it. And we knew that from the jump We started slow and they started slow, too. But we knew just stick to the gameplan, and we'd be OK."
Texas Tech is scheduled to take on No. 4 Gonzaga (33-3), the West Region's top seed, in the West Regional final at 5:09 p.m. CDT Saturday.
Gonzaga has the nation's highest-scoring offense at 88.8 points per game, Tech the third-stingiest defense at 59.2 points per game.