Big Win in Big 12

It took a while for the Red Raiders to get that first win, but it has finally come in a home game to make it even sweeter.

It took 11 games, 11 losses, 11 missed opportunities before the Red Raiders were able to do what they have been unable to since December 30 – notch a win.

Texas Tech came out on Saturday night as a team that sat a bottom the Big 12 Conference and had not won a league game to that point, but changed all of that against Oklahoma taking down the Sooners 65-47 inside the United Spirit Arena.  

"It was obviously a great win for us, and I think our guys deserved to win," Tech head coach Billy Gillisipie said. "They've been battling for a long time, haven't always executed very well, but they battled hard in practice and played good enough defense the other night at Kanas State to win on the road against a very good team, but just turned the ball over too much and they built on that game the next day in practice and had the right approach."

The Sooners (13-11, 3-9 in Big 12 play) came into the game looking to try and snap a losing streak against a team that they had beaten earlier in the season, losing 64-55 in Norman on January 17.

Coming out of the gates it looked as if Oklahoma was going to run away with it starting the game on a 5-0 run before Tech was able to answer.

The Red Raiders (8-16, 1-11) chipped away at the lead, tied it up once at 16 apiece with eight minutes and 17 seconds left in the first half, and finally took the lead.

Down 22-20 with 1:33 left in the half, sophomore Javarez Willis gave the Red Raiders the lead, marking the first time Tech had led in a game since the 17:07 mark of the first half against Kansas State, with a 3-pointer from the corner bringing the crowd in the USA to life.

Tech finished the half on a 5-0 run of its own and took a 25-22 lead into the locker room, which was different for the Red Raiders considering they had not led at the half in a Big 12 game all season, and the first time since the Southeastern Louisiana game on December 30.

Having the lead going into the locker room gave them confidence, senior Robert Lewandowski said, and they had not played well at home lately and finally did.

"Definitely, we haven't had a lead at half, especially at home in a while," he said. "Under Armour puts it great, we must protect this house, and we have done a cruddy job of that, but you got to start somewhere and tonight we started."

 Coming out of the locker room, Tech went on a 9-7 run to maintain their slim lead and started to put the Sooners in the rear-view mirror with the play of Willis and Lewandowski.

In the first half, Lewandowski went 1-for-7 from the field, but in the second half the lone senior took over going 7-for-12 from the field for 14 points en route to a 16-point performance.

With Lewandowski getting into a grove Willis followed suit, and was leading the team in scoring at the half with 12 points and was the only Red Raider at the time in double-digits.

Willis was knocked out of the Kansas State game on Tuesday early as he suffered a sprained ankle, which prevented him from finishing the game.

This week was filled with rehab and trying to get back to the court, Willis said, and he never thought about his ankle but just wanted to help the team win.

And that's exactly what he did.

The sophomore finished the game going 8-for-12 from the field, 2-for-4 from 3-point range to rack up a new career-high in scoring as Willis eclipsed the 20-point mark for the first time in his collegiate career going for a team-high 21 points in the win.

"It's always been played up, like it's supposed to be," Willis said about getting the win. "[Coach Gillispie] gives the scouting report, and he tells us exactly what it takes to win. He tells us if we don't turn the ball over, and I haven't been hitting shots lately. So in film, he got on me and told me "The reason why you're not hitting shots is because you've been taking bad shots." So I decided to change that today, and took all good shots, and stayed under control. It's just amazing how if you do what he says, it works. We had seven turnovers. I think that was the difference in the game."

Behind the limited turnovers, which was the lowest this season since committing only eight against Texas A&M – CC on December 1, and the play of Lewandowski and Willis the Red Raiders were able to pull out to a double-digit lead and finish off the blowout of Oklahoma winning 65-47, marking their first win in Big 12 play.

Ironically the last time Tech had won a conference game came back on March 2, 2011 against Oklahoma inside the United Spirit Arena and was by double-digits as well.

Following the game first-year Oklahoma Head Coach Lon Kruger said Tech was able to just come out and run the game the way they wanted to and his team could not do anything about it.

"I thought they worked awfully hard and competed and beat us to loose balls and kind of dictated all night long," he said. "We had pretty good energy to start the ball game and then when they evened it up there midway in the first half it seemed like from that point on they were the ones dictating.

"Again getting to loose ball and doing things they wanted to do, and we didn't have a lot going on either side of the ball."

Tech will have a few days to enjoy this win before having to face a Texas A&M squad that is desperately needing wins to guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament come March.

With this being the first win in conference play of his senior season Lewandowski said the team does need to take time and celebrate, but can't overlook the Aggies, who roll into Lubbock on Tuesday looking for a big win.

"It's been a while since we won, especially a big win like this. The biggest thing I think we need to do is celebrate, just kind of relax and just kind of enjoy the moment, and savor the taste of it," he said. "But tomorrow in practice is the next big step. It's not on Tuesday, but the next big step starts tomorrow in practice. If we come out still kind of complacent because of this win, then that's going to make the road to Tuesday a lot harder.

"So we need to come out and get our minds right, and practice like we played tonight. Just go hard and take care of the ball. It will be all right. It just starts tomorrow. "

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