COLLEGE STATION — Billy Gillispie paused for 10 seconds as he collected his thoughts. Then he swallowed hard and tried to stem the emotion that was pouring through him.
A week that marked the one-year anniversary of his mother’s passing ended on Saturday with Texas Tech’s 67-54 loss to Texas A&M at Reed Arena — where he coached from 2004 to 2007 — and Gillispie’s passion and competitiveness were on display as he answered the inevitable questions about his return to College Station.
“I’m just disappointed that all those people that know what we can do saw us not compete better than we did,” Gillispie said.
The first-year Red Raider coach made it clear this week that while he looked forward to seeing familiar faces, this trip was about trying to win a game.
“It’s a business venture for us, and we came down and didn’t take care of business,” he said.
The most pressing matter of business Tech (7-9, 0-4 in Big 12 Conference) failed to take care of in its final Big 12 road game against Southeastern Conference-bound A&M (10-6, 1-3) was scoring.
The Red Raiders didn’t make a shot for the first 10:16 of the game, finally ending the field-goal drought on a Jaye Crockett dunk. Tech shot just 33 percent from the field (21 percent in the first half) and the team’s starters combined for just 14 points.
“We didn’t get hardly anything from those guys,” Gillispie said. “If you’re going to try to win on the road, you have to do better than that.”
Tech’s offensive woes were the result of a number of other issues that also plagued the team during its lopsided loss to Kansas earlier this week. The Red Raiders turned the ball over 23 times. Cuts weren’t fast enough, Gillispie said, and the team’s guards didn’t feed the post often enough when players had position, especially in the first half.
After showing marked improvement during losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor to open Big 12 play, the team often looked lost, particularly offensively, in losses to Kansas and A&M.
“It’s frustrating to lose when you take steps back,” said forward Jaye Crockett, who was one of few bright spots while scoring a career-high 19 points. “Digging yourself in a hole and then having to fight back is rough.”
The Red Raiders shot 0 of 8 from the floor with six turnovers before Crockett’s first field goal.
“They played good defense, we knew that going into the game,” Gillispie said. “But we didn’t think it was good enough to keep us from scoring for 10:16. We haven’t been finishing plays.”
The Aggies grabbed control early behind senior guard Khris Middleton, who opened the game on a personal 6-0 run.
“Khris got out to a great start, and everyone followed him,” said A&M guard Dash Harris, who was one of five Aggies in double figures with 11 points. “We got some good looks early, some easy buckets.”
Nothing came easy for Tech. When Jordan Tolbert (five points) missed an open dunk early in the second half, it all but summed up the Red Raiders’ luck on Saturday.
Clark Lammert, who played most of the second half in place of Lewandowski, scored a career-high 10 points.
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