Red Raiders Ready for Non-Conference Finale

Interim head coach Chris Walker and his squad have had a rough month of December, but look to finish it and 2012 off on a high note against Florida A&M on Monday.

Following a solid November, where the Red Raider basketball program posted a 4-0 mark, December has not been as friendly.

Texas Tech dropping four of its six games in the month so far.

"It's not where we want to be, but it's how it turns out sometimes," sophomore guard Trency Jackson, who is averaging 6.9 points per game this season, said. "Obviously we want to be 9-1, but it turned out like that. So we just keep pushing."

 Tech (6-4) got off to a 5-0 start, which marked the second best start by a new head coach in program history, before particularly the Pac-12 Conference and SEC had its way with the Red Raiders.

In a 2-4 stretch, Tech suffered losses to Arizona, Arizona State and Alabama, two of those coming as a part of a three-game losing streak, the longest of such for the Red Raiders this season.

Despite the losing streak dropping Tech from a 5-1 squad to a 5-4 team in the span of a week, redshirt junior Dejan Kravic, who is second on the team in scoring averaging 11 points per outing, said the team took a lot away from that stretch, which has made them better.
"We learned a lot from the three games we lost from that three-game losing streak we had," he said. "So practices have been a lot more intense, we've been focusing primarily on defense and everyone just holding each other accountable."

For a Red Raider program that has a lot of new pieces including nine new players and of course a new man in charge in interim head coach Chris Walker, it has been a growing process.

Since taking over the Red Raider basketball program, just a few weeks before the first game of the season on November 9 against Prairie View A&M, which Tech won 89-79, there have been a good number of questions about the progress of the team, especially during the three-game losing streak.

When posed the same question on Sunday, the number 60 came up.

Sixty is not the average number of points per game the Red Raiders are scoring this season, nor their average field goal percentage but actually the number of practices they have had as a team since Walker took over.

"They're about halfway there," Walker said about the progress of the team. "I look on the practice schedule and it says practice number 60, and some people have practice number 600, some people have practice number 200, we've had practice number 60. From that standpoint, I'm happy. But I do believe if we can get our mental state a little tougher and tighter, we can do some special things down the road."

The Red Raiders had one more practice before their final non-conference game of the season against Florida A&M on Monday inside the United Spirit Arena, also marking the last tune-up for the Tech squad before Big 12 Conference play begins. First tip set for noon.

The Rattlers (4-8) enter the meeting coming off back-to-back losses including a nine-point loss to Georgia on Saturday and an 80-57 loss to Clemson on December 15, snapping a three-game winning streak.

Senior Jamie Adams leads the way for the Rattlers, averaging 15.5 points per game followed by junior guard Reggie Lewis with 11.1 points per game.

With this game marking the final non-conference game for Red Raiders before opening Big 12 play on Saturday against newcomer TCU in Fort Worth, which marks Tech's first road test of the season, it makes this final game against a non-conference foe and final home game just that more important.

"It's one of the most crucial games, I mean that's the last game we have before 18 Big 12 games, all are going to be tough games in the Big 12," Kravic said. "Nothing's going to be easy so this games going to be really crucial that we really, really have a good game."

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