Knight even complimented the "good basketball crowd" of 13,283 in Alltel Arena, which mostly cheered his pregame introduction.
"I don't know if I've ever said this about a visiting crowd, but they were nice," Knight said. "They stayed with the game, right down to the last two or three minutes."
An interview room filled with 32 people, including a writer for the Washington Post, grew remarkably quiet before Knight entered the room, but the media needn't have felt intimidated.
Knight began by saying both teams played hard and pretty well defensively, and that this year Tech handled the ball better than in a 78-65 loss to Arkansas in Dallas last season, which featured "seven or eight breakaways" by the Hogs.
This time it was Arkansas that started each half with a turnover -- one by Steven Hill, one by Gary Ervin (his fourth of six).
"We exercised control of the game in the first half and scored when we needed to in the second half, so that Arkansas could never get it down to a 1-point game," Knight said. "Arkansas did a very smart thing by taking it inside in the second half, but they were three or four plays away from getting it to a very close game."
Knight differed with a questioner about whether Tech guard Jarrius Jackson hurt his right ankle or left ankle -- "I think it was his left," he said -- then deadpanned, "I think it was one or the other."
While he liked the leadership of lefty forward Martin Zeno (17 points), Knight wouldn't say the Raiders were ready for Big 12 play yet.
"Call my sports information director on Jan. 2 after we've played Bucknell, UNLV and New Mexico," said Knight, who recited the phone number to a radio reporter scurrying for a pen. "If this is important to you, I'll have the answer then."
Standing up to end the interview session after a pleasant 10 minutes, Knight said, "My dad was born in Arkansas. Mt. Ida. Nice people in Arkansas."
THOMAS A WARRIOR
Hogs forward Charles Thomas excited the fans while scoring 19 of his 21 points in the second half. He powered in for three old-fashioned three-point play chances, punctuating each with a scream. Although he converted just one of them, he made 11 of 13 free throws overall.
"Our fans created a great environment and we let them down," Thomas said. "You have to give a lot of credit to the Texas Tech players and coaching staff for taking care of business."
It took Arkansas 29 years, from 1976-2005, to erase a 30-12 series deficit against Tech and forge a 38-38 tie. But now Tech leads again, 39-38.
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