Texas Tech players enter the court for NCAA title game
The national anthem finished and Patrick Mahomes cupped his hands to his mouth and let out a big yell.
The Chiefs quarterback had posted on Twitter that he was hoarse after cheering for alma mater Texas Tech all night Saturday. But wearing a white Texas Tech shirt and a sticker reading “Adidas” (Mahomes’ sponsor) covering up an Under Armour logo (Tech’s shoe sponsor), Mahomes was back in force Monday night for the NCAA championship game between his Red Raiders and Virginia at US Bank Stadium.
“For him to be at this game,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said on Sunday, “and talk to the team briefly yesterday was really, really cool.”
Mahomes’ presence on the stadium videoboards got Texas Tech’s fans in a frenzy twice, and the Red Raiders emerged from those timeouts with big scoring runs. Tech erased 10-point Virginia leads in both halves but lost in overtime 85-77.
After Texas Tech fell behind 9-3 and called timeout with 12:56 left in the first half, Mahomes woke up the Red Raiders fans by flexing a bicep.
Tech then tied the score 19-19 at 7:34. After Matt Mooney’s jumper put Tech up 25-21 at 4:52, Mahomes bobbed his head.
Virginia came back though, Ty Jerome hit a three before the buzzer and Tech trailed 32-29 at halftime.
Sitting next to Mahomes was a teammate, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who also was at Saturday’s Final Four game with Mahomes.
They made an appearance during a second half timeout after Tech fell behind 55-47 with 7:23 to play. First though, Tech’s fans were fired up to hear “Old Town Road,” the Red Raiders’ locker room celebration song. Then Mahomes was back on the videoboard shooting an imaginary bow and arrow. Kelce was off to the side, drinking a beer.
And what do you know, Tech went on another run and tied the score at 59-59 on a Norense Odiase three-point play with 3:28 to play. The teams were tied 68-68 going into overtime.
Several fans in the Texas Tech student section were wearing No. 15 Chiefs jerseys with Mahomes’ name on the back. One flexed for cameras and did the arrow celebration.
On Saturday, Mahomes spoke to the Red Raiders before they left their hotel and were bused to the stadium for their national semifinal game, a 61-51 victory over Michigan State.
“For him to come speak from his heart, he riled us up, he was very excited, energized to be there with us,” senior Norense Odiase said. “He’s a great ambassador for Tech athletics, not only us, but other teams. So he’s just been great all year for us and the other teams.”
Mahomes is coming off a 50-touchdown season in his first year as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, leading to the NFL Most Valuable Player Award.
“Just seeing what he did this year, getting the MVP, you’ve got the MVP of the NFL talking to your team, so it always gives us motivation and confidence, and just seeing everything he did kind of motivated us to go out,” sophomore Jarrett Culver said. “He believed in us. It’s always good to have him around just talking to us, and kind of like a role model to us.”