First "Official" Win in Chris Walker Era

Red Raider basketball opened their 2012 season on Friday inside the United Spirit Arena with an 89-79 victory against Prairie View A&M.

Chris Walker walked into the post-game press conference on November 1 following the Red Raiders 88-63 victory against University of Texas – Permian Basin in an exhibition game and jokingly said he was happy to get his first win as a head coach, although it wasn't official.

On Friday, Walker got to walk into the post-game press conference and sit down and officially claim his first win as the interim head coach of the Red Raiders following an 89-79 victory against Prairie View A&M inside the United Spirit Arena.

"I mean it's a great feeling Kirby (Hocutt) gave me the game ball, in the locker room and the guys clapped it up for me," he said. "That's the first thing I did was thank my player because like I told them this will be etched in stone I'll always remember you guys no matter what happens in my lifetime. It's gratifying to have been on that journey for such a long time and now to finally get your chance and get your first win, it's just something you always dream about and now that it's happened I want number two."

Following a slow start for both teams to the game, tied 7-7 after five minutes and 23 seconds had already ticked off the clock, the Red Raiders (1-0) were able to get their offense clicking.

Tech went on a 12-2 run, powered by the three-point shooting of Jamal Williams, who finished 4-for-8 from behind the arc chipping in 15 points on the night.

"I had fun," Williams said. "Coming from a JUCO to here is a big difference. I just played my heart out tonight, gave it my all."

After a while it looked as though the Red Raiders were going to steamroll the Panthers after extending their lead to 20 points, 51-31, with 3:09 left in the first half.

But Prairie View A&M (0-1) would battle its way back closing the first half on a 7-0 run.

The run would continue into the second half, Panthers getting within six to the Red Raiders on the scoreboard with 11:20 left in the game, after that Tech was able to hold off the multiple runs by the Panthers for the 10-point victory.

Despite the loss, Prairie View A&M head coach Byron Rimm II said he was proud of his guys considering the injuries to some of his main players. 

"I was quite proud of our guys, it was a lot of our guys first division I basketball game so I was very happy with that," he said. "We are a lot better basketball team, we had a little adversity from some of the foul calls, some of our bigs are overly aggressive their first game, so we kind of figured that was going to happen but our guys did a good job."

Rimm did not have the services of both Jourdan DeMuynck, who averaged 10.1 points per game last season, and Demondre Chapman, who chipped in 8.4 points per game last season.  

For the Red Raiders, there were four different players to break into double digits in scoring with sophomore forward Jordan Tolbert leading the way.

Tolbert finished with a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds, and even when the Panthers got a little to close for comfort Tolbert said the team held together well.

"We felt like we had to stick together to overcome that," he said, "it was a tough point in the game, it felt like we weren't getting calls, but that's what it's about sticking together and coming out with a victory."

Now the Red Raiders have just a few days to prepare for their next test against Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday and Walker said there were some good things that he took away from this game and some things they still need to work on before the next time they lace it up.

"What I did like about game one is that we got the win. I also liked the fact that we were ahead again and just like in the exhibition game we had to fight through some adversity," he said. "We got seven new players, we got two freshman and two guys who are primary ball handlers that have never played at this level and we played against a very experienced team. They grinded it out and once again we almost scored 90 points again and that's something we want to do.

"Obviously in the second half we need to limit our turnovers and I think we got a little careless in the second half and we just have to work on our focus."

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