Leading the Way

Texas Tech senior forward Jaye Crockett is not only answering the bell on the court, but leading the team with character off it.

Most Texas Tech basketball
fans know fifth-year senior forward and Clovis, New Mexico native Jaye Crockett was celebrated in his hometown with "Jaye Crockett Day" last week.

Perhaps Lubbock should follow suit.

The graduate student, who everybody regards as a "great guy", has also taken his game on the court to the next level for the Red Raiders (12-11 overall, 4-6 in Big 12), who have already surpassed last season's overall and Big 12 win totals.

"Jaye's had a big week. He had "Jaye Crockett Day" so I'm glad to see him cap the week off with good play," said Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith following Saturday night's 65-61 victory over No. 19 Oklahoma State. "Jaye is our best all-around player--he's a guy that can go inside, outside--knocking down the two 3's were critical. He's leading us in rebounding, scoring, and he's leading us the right way--even off the court. He's a good man. I'm grateful to get the opportunity to coach him this year."

Crockett averages 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, a steal and a half a block per outting this season. That's solid production, but his leadership has been just as pivotal for the Red Raiders.

Saturday night he went toe-to-toe with one of the most talented players in the country--the embattled Marcus Smart--a future NBA Lottery pick.

Every time Smart made a big play, such as his 3-pointer from Levelland to beat the shot-clock with 4:30 remaining, there was Crockett on the ensuing possession with a trey of his own to tie it up.

Crockett would eventually hit a baseline jumper in the final minute to take a two-point lead before sealing the 65-61 win over the Cowboys with a free throw in the final seconds. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

His preparation has also been noted by many. The ESPNU telecast pointed out Crockett showed up hours before the game Saturday to get up some shots in the practice gym, which obviously worked.

Texas Tech's other win over a ranked opponent came against Baylor on Jan. 15. Though Crockett was a key contributor on the court with 19 points, four rebounds and two assists, according to senior teammate Dejan Kravic, he also fired up the team in the locker room shortly before the game.

"We were also motivated because Jaye actually showed us before the game, he showed us the boxscore from last year's game against Baylor," Kravic said. "He printed it off and circled that score and it was 82-48 for them."

While Smart's altercation with Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr understandably captured the nation's attention, hopefully some noticed Crockett was the best player on the court Saturday night.

As his coach pointed out after the game, many are noticing how he's going about his business and that's worthy of all of our attention and praise.

*Click here to watch Saturday's postgame press conference in its entirety*

*Click here to join the discussion about the wild night at United Spirit Arena on Saturday*

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