Chasing the Apple

With a trip to New York awaiting the winner, No. 2 seed Ole Miss and No. 5 seed Texas Tech meet Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. Read about it inside.

As a coach and now as an ESPN commentator, former Indiana and Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight has always been one of the more colorful characters in all of college basketball.

On the court, he won more NCAA Division I men's basketball games (902) than any other head coach. But to most, "the General" is often remembered for his chair throws and boisterous personality.

Of course, he's never refrained from using language laced in the ever racy, four-letter variety either.

However, when No. 5 seed Texas Tech enters Tad Smith Coliseum Tuesday at 6 p.m. for a quarterfinals match in the National Invitation Tournament, the usually sweater-clad Knight won't be roaming the sidelines.

No, he's left those duties to his son Pat, who became head coach in 2008.

"I've got, obviously, the upmost respect for Coach (Bob) Knight and what he accomplished," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Pat played for him and coached under him. There are certainly a lot of similar characteristics. Pat's his own guy. There's only one Bob Knight."

True, but as they say, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

Pat shares similar characteristics to his father, especially in the Red Raiders' style of play. His defenses are centered in man-to-man, though he'll mix in some zone every now and then. And like Ole Miss, Texas Tech is guard dominated, with a motion-based offensive philosophy.

When he coaches, Pat can often be fooled for his elder, too. He won't be practicing long toss with his sitting aide, mind you, but referees can sure get an earful.

"I've known Pat for a long time, so it's going to be good to see him," Kennedy said. "I'm proud he's got his team playing well. From a matchup standpoint, they're a little bit like us. They're larger up front, which is typically everybody we play. I would think that the game, from a tempo standpoint, there wouldn't be a clash of styles."

The winner of today's game moves on to the Final Four in New York City's Madison Square Garden, the site of the March 30 semifinals and April 1 championship game. If Ole Miss were to advance, it would be its second trip in three years to the NIT Final Four, with the last coming in 2008.

"I'd like to get the team to New York," Kennedy said. "When you get to New York City and play in Madison Square Garden, one of the most storied venues in all of basketball, it's a neat experience. There's only a handful of teams still playing. With that comes an exposure that our program certainly needs while we're growing."

Texas Tech comes to Oxford after claiming NIT wins over Seton Hall and Jacksonville. The Red Raiders are 19-15 overall and finished 4-12 in Big 12 games this season, with close losses to NCAA Tournament teams Texas and Missouri.

Texas Tech averages 76.4 points per game and allows 75.6. John Roberson paces three Red Raiders in double figures with 14.8 ppg, followed by Mike Singletary's 14.6 and team-high 6.8 rebounds. Nick Okorie chips in 10.8 ppg.

Kennedy, whose team has reeled off consecutive impressive victories over Troy and Memphis, hopes to see the 2009-10 season continue. With only one senior on the roster, forward DeAundre Cranston, each game offers invaluable experience for a talented returning core.

"I do know that every game Terrance Henry and Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner, every game they can play, you would hope they can learn from it and make them better," he said.

"When you get to New York City and have an opportunity to play on national television in that venue, it gives them more experience that you hope would bode well for the future."

Today's game will be broadcast nationally via ESPN.

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