Matt Mooney added 13 points for the Red Raiders (26-5, 14-4 Big 12), winners of nine straight heading into the postseason. Their last league crown came in the defunct Southwestern Conference in 1996.
Lindell Wigginton and Marial Shayok each scored 17 points for the Cyclones (20-11, 9-9), who have lost six of eight.
With the game tied at 65 with 3:37 left, Brandone Francis beat the shot clock with a contested 3 to give Tech the lead. Culver then hit a mid-range jumper after a turnover, and two Tariq Owens free throws put the Red Raiders ahead 72-65 with 2:05 to go.
Culver’s layup with 59 seconds left made it 74-69, and he hit two free throws to put Tech up 76-71 30 seconds later. Culver finished shot 12 of 19 and 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
After trailing by as many as eight points, Texas Tech ran off 10 points in a row to jump ahead 51-45 early in the second half. Iowa State cut Tech’s lead to 57-55, but Culver hit back-to-back layups high off the glass to make it 62-55 with 6:57 left.
Owens was called for a flagrant foul with 4:15 left though, allowing Iowa State to tie it at 65 nine seconds later.
THE BIG PICTURE
Texas Tech: Coach Chris Beard followed up an Elite Eight appearance with a conference title in just his third season in Lubbock. Even if Culver goes pro this spring, it appears the Red Raiders will be Big 12 contenders for years.
Iowa State: The Cyclones tweaked their lineup after a 90-75 loss at West Virginia on Wednesday. Freshman George Conditt got the rotational frontcourt minutes typically given to sophomore Cam Lard, and senior Zoran Talley was a much bigger part of the game plan. Coach Steve Prohm likes to settle on a rotation in December and stick with it, so it’ll be interesting to see if those changes remain in the Big 12 tournament.
The league tournament starts Wednesday in Kansas City.