Tech Drops Another Heartbreaker

Texas Tech had a shot to win late Saturday night, but once again fell just short. The 67-64 loss to Texas was the Red Raiders' 18th consecutive defeat in Austin.

Texas Tech has proved beyond a doubt that it can play with the big boys. The next step is proving that they can actually beat them.

For the third time this season the Red Raiders had the chance to win a game against a name opponent on the final possession. And for the third time Tech came up dry as a tumbleweed in a cotton field in Yoakum County.

On this occasion, the man who had the chance to vault the Red Raiders over the losing barrier was senior forward Jaye Crockett. But with .3 of a second remaining, and Tech trailing the Texas Longhorns 65-64, Crockett could not knock down a 12-foot pull-up jumper. Texas collected the rebound, knocked down a pair of free throws, and the Red Raiders go home just another statistic in Tech's 18-game Austin losing streak. The Red Raiders still haven't beaten the Longhorns on the road since 1996, when most of the current team was in diapers.

But it really shouldn't have come down to the necessity of a last-second shot. When, in the first half the Longhorns looked eminently beatable, the Red Raiders failed to put them in a hole. A Tech team that was shooting 75 percent from the free throw line, shot only 61 percent in the opening stanza. The Red Raiders missed seven free throws.

And while Tech is only an average three-point shooting team, the team's dreadful aim from distance in the first half was stupefying. It was not so much a case of shooting only 20 percent from deep; that would be understandable if the Red Raiders were facing a stifling defense. But far from it, virtually all of Tech's eight misses from deep were wide open and uncontested. The proverbial Maytag repairman was Dennis Rodman in North Korea compared to the Red Raider guards.

Still, Tech led 33-32 at halftime. They should have been up by at least a dozen. And predictably as the sun coming up in the east, Tech's failure to strike while the iron was hot proved fatal.

What was equally predictable was that the Red Raiders showed resiliency. Just as the Red Raiders fought back from big deficits to tie or take the lead against Iowa State and West Virginia, so they did against the Longhorns.

Texas surged to eight-point leads on a Jevan Felix jumper with 13:02 to play and a pair of Isaiah Taylor free throws with 7:49 remaining. In both instances, Tech answered with a three ball. The first came compliments of Jamal Williams, the second was from the hand of Dusty Hannahs. The Red Raiders showed ice water on both occasions.

But close losses do not advance a program. For Tubby Smith's Tech team to actually begin moving up the pecking order in the Big 12, his team will either have to learn how to win when the chips are down, or they will have to take advantage of earlier opportunities to throttle opponents and obviate the need for white-knuckle victories. In the meantime, the torch songs are wearing painfully thin for all concerned.

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