KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With former Texas Tech quarterback and current king of Kansas City Patrick Mahomes watching from courtside, the Red Raiders’ basketball team put on a defensive performance Mahomes didn’t see much of in his time in Lubbock.
Nebraska couldn’t hit enough shots, couldn’t grab enough rebounds, and couldn’t keep its leading scorer out of foul trouble as Texas Tech pulled away for a 70-52 win in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center.
Nebraska’s last tournament title of any kind came in 2000, when NU beat SMU to win the San Juan Shootout.
This was a different level of competition.
The Red Raiders (5-0) went to the Elite Eight last season, going 27-10, earning a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and beating Purdue in the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual national champion Villanova in the national quarterfinals.
Texas Tech lost five seniors and first-round NBA Draft pick Zhaire Smith from that team.
But they brought back the defensive toughness that has become a trademark under head coach Chris Beard. Tournament MVP Jarrett Culver scored 26 points and pulled down six rebounds. South Dakota transfer Matt Mooney added 15 points
Other than the Huskers bolting out to a 13-4 lead to start the game, Nebraska was disjointed on offense most of the night. NU shot 35 percent from the field and went 5-for-23 from three one night after hitting 13 triples against Missouri State. The Huskers didn't crack the 50-point mark until 2:37 left after scoring more than 80 in each of their first four games.
Isaac Copeland led Nebraska (4-1) with 20 points and eight rebounds.
With shots not falling, Nebraska needed to hit the boards. They lost that battle, too. At one point, Tech held a 29-19 rebounding advantage and led 9-0 in second-chance points.
James Palmer picked up his third foul just 27 seconds into the second half, and was hit with his fourth with 15:10 still to play and Nebraska down 38-34.
The Huskers were cooking early. After Palmer traveled on Nebraska’s first possession of the game and Texas Tech scored on the other end, Palmer got to the rack for an and-one to put NU in front and spark a 13-2 run.
Then came a grease fire on the stove: Palmer picked up his second offensive foul eight minutes into the game. The Huskers had a 4-minute, 53-second scoring drought after going up 15-6. NU went scoreless again for a 3:55 stretch later in the half, and it ended the half by going scoreless for the final 2:11.
Palmer got his third foul less than 30 seconds into the second half, and was whistled for his fourth with 15 minutes still to play. He finished with 13 points.