Defense Now, Offense Then

While this edition of Texas Tech hoops appears to be a gritty defensive team, a look back at history shows the Red Raiders once scored an eye-popping amount of points in a single game.

The study of history is sometimes eye-opening. During Texas Tech’s 101-39 blitz of South Carolina State, Potentate Supreme-Deluxe, Jarret Johnson, began combing the record books in search of a Red Raider rout similar to the one we were witnessing. In doing so, he chanced upon a score I thought was certainly a typo: Texas Tech 167, East Central 115. When Jarret showed me the score, I immediately dismissed it as an error and suggested he dig further just to make sure. But what looked like a slip of some inebriated intern’s finger (surely it was Texas Tech 117 East Central 115) proved to be square biz.

The game, which occurred on Nov. 20, 2008, when the Tech football team was ranked No. 2 and was preparing for a showdown in Norman, unspooled during Pat Knight’s first complete season as Tech’s head coach. Needless to say, it set a record for most points scored by a Tech basketball team (the previous record was 128, which came in a double-overtime win over Texas in 1994), and smashed the record for most combined points scored in a Tech basketball game.

Ten Red Raiders scored in double figures. They were: D’waylen Roberts (13), Trevor Cook (20), Alan Voskuil (17), John Roberson (17), Nick Okorie (13), Rogdrick Craig (11), Wally Dunn (16), Michael Prince (12), Darko Cohadarevic (12) and Mike Singletary (16). Tech shot 59 percent from the field and 52 percent from 3-point range.

It’s hard to imagine the current Tech team, which averages 72 points per game, doing anything like this, but then again, this team will probably never allow the opposition to score 115. In fact, it is just possible the basketball team will not allow an opponent to score 82. That number, of course, bears a certain significance for the Tech football program.

Another History Lesson: The last time the Red Raiders began the season 9-1—which is the current team’s record—was the 2009-10 season. Pat Knight was in his second full season as head coach.

After starting 9-0, a run that included a heart-stopping 99-92 overtime win over No. 12 Washington, the Red Raiders climbed to a No. 16 national ranking and looked to be a very strong contender for an NCAA tourney berth. However, Tech lost their 10th game, 83-85 to Wichita State and dropped one more non-conference contest, 75-90 to New Mexico. Still at 12-2 and with wins over Oregon State, Washington, Stanford and UTEP, the Red Raiders appeared poised to do some real damage in the Big 12.

Instead, Tech sank like a stone in conference play. The Red Raiders finished the conference slate with four wins (over Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma again) and 12 defeats. Tech then split a pair of games in the Big 12 postseason tournament to stand at 17-15. An NIT invite was forthcoming and the Red Raiders beat Seton Hall and Jacksonville in the postseason before dropping an overtime decision to Ole Miss on the road. Tech finished 19-16.

The moral of the story is that a strong non-conference performance, and even an appearance in the Top 20 is no guarantor of success in the Big 12. The Big 12, year-in and year-out is a meat-grinder and the conference looks as strong as ever this season. So, regardless of how this team finishes in Las Vegas and against North Texas, do not expect a meteoric rise through the Big 12 ranks. As the fate of the 2009-10 team suggests, a rags-to-riches story is improbable. But if there’s any reason to be a bit more optimistic about the current team, it is that the squad has one ace up its sleeve that the earlier team didn’t: Tubby Smith. His presence alone could be worth a win or two.

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