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Zach Long/Avalanche-Journal
Texas Tech's Trency Jackson celebrates after a basket against Jackson State during their game on Monday in Lubbock.

Tech overcomes poor outside shooting to down hard-charging Jackson State

Jaye Crockett leads the way with 20 points, Kravic adds 16

Posted: November 26, 2012 - 8:58pm  |  Updated: November 27, 2012 - 1:19am
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Texas Tech's Josh Gray steals a ball from Jackson State's Christian Williams during their game on Monday in Lubbock. (Zach Long)  Zach Long
Zach Long
Texas Tech's Josh Gray steals a ball from Jackson State's Christian Williams during their game on Monday in Lubbock. (Zach Long)
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Texas Tech players may have expected at least a mild scolding from coach Chris Walker when they headed into the United Spirit Arena locker room at halftime Monday night, trailing winless Jackson State by three points following a dismal performance in the game’s first 20 minutes.

But that’s not exactly how it went down.

“He said, ‘I knew we were going to face this. I’m glad it happened,’” guard Jamal Williams recalled of Walker’s speech at intermission. “We made it up in our minds that in the second half, the first five minutes we were going to play our hardest defense. That’s what we did.”

Tech forced six turnovers in the first four minutes of the second half, turning the slim deficit built on horrid outside shooting into an 84-75 victory that pushed the Red Raiders to 4-0.

It often wasn't pretty. Tech shot 36 percent (13 of 36) in the first half, including 1 of 10 from 3-point range. In a flash, the Red Raiders found themselves in an 11-1 hole, punched in the mouth for this first time in this young season.

Even when Tech opened up double-digit leads in the second-half, the Tigers kept coming. They pulled as close as 60-59 with 9:23 left before Tech’s athleticism and relentless defense helped it pull away.

“It was a great test,” said forward Jaye Crockett, who scored a team-high 20 points. “They played with us. The first couple games we’d been going into the half with a lead. In this game we went in struggling. We knew we had to come out hard.”

Walker enjoyed the 24-point average margin of victory Tech had in its first three games as much as anybody, but he was also glad to see his team on the ropes at key moments in a game. He was equally pleased to see the way his guys bounced off them.

“It gave us an opportunity to lock in and really get after people,” Walker said. “You’re not going to win by 30 every night. It’s a teachable moment for our guys. Our starting lineup is four guys who have never played at this level. We would have loved to have done what we’d done the last couple of games, but every game is different.”

With No. 9 Arizona visiting United Spirit Arena on Saturday, Walker said he did “the very best job I could keeping those guys grounded,” and focused on a Jackson State (0-3) team, led by Christian Williams’ 22 points, that he knew would give his squad everything it had.

Looking ahead wasn’t the problem. Shooting was.

Tech point guards Josh Gray and Daylen Robinson combined to shoot 7 of 27 from the field — 1 of 12 from the 3-point line — and the Red Raiders finished just 3 of 21 from the perimeter overall. Walker lamented a number of missed lay-ups and easy shots by as his team — Tech did bounce back with 58 percent shooting in the second half — as well as the 23 offensive rebounds it surrendered.

But he said all those faults were easy to forgive given the way the Red Raiders played defense, forcing 25 turnovers. That number included seven steals by Gray — “That turns a game for us,” Walker said — who also managed 12 points despite the poor shooting night.

Tech limited Jackson State to 36 percent shooting for the game.

“My No. 1 thing,” Walker said, “and I tell them time and time again, we are about defense. We are about defense and locking people down. When adversity struck tonight, and it did strike, we had to dig in.”

Dejan Kravic scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked five shots. Jamal Williams added 12 points and four boards.

Walker became just the second Tech coach to start 4-0 in his first full season. He and the Red Raiders now face their stiffest test yet in Arizona (3-0), and it’s one they say they are eagerly awaiting.

“We’re all ready,” Williams said. “It’s my first time in Division-I playing a big-time team. The energy is crazy in the locker room for us.”

 

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I Can't See the Light

I almost hit the jackpot last year when I said I thought Billy Clyde would run the table in the conference and not win a game.

The conference is down so this group will win more than one. But not many more.

There's no resurgence here.

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A hard fought GAME?

....against Jackson STATE? I had to look up this institution to make sure where it was. If TTU can barely beat Jackson State, this will be another loser season with all of the wins coming against institutions that do not participate in any major conferences. This win is hardly worth crowing about, but it certainly shows that this team is far from being competitive in our league or nationally. What a debacle Texas Tech athletics has become in less then five years: football team that is seventh, women's basketball almost perennially bottom feeders, men's basketball basically non-existent. I hope that Hocutt can find a competent, nationally known and respected coach that can turn this program around. I feel sorry for the student athletes that have had to endure such chaos. Let's just hope they continue to improve and work together. One never knows...miracles do happen.

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Currently 6th

Football currently 6th. You don't have to lie about the standings.

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FACTRFACTS

I'm amazed at your talent. I've never met anyone that can predict the future with such certainty. You should join the circus! Or maybe better...get a life.

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man.

Attendance looks way up this year. hah. pathetic.

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On the Rise

This program, under Walker and these new young players, is definitely on the rise. Most of the key players on this team hadn't played a DI basketball game two weeks ago, add to that a new coach and completely new system. Some of you want to be negative because that's all you know to do. No idea how this season turns out, but if you can't see the light it's only because you don't want to. Very proud of these guys already. They are bustin their asses in practice and on game day. Major shout out to Jaye Crockett. Playing at a very high level. Awesome.

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major talent?

This group looks like world beaters against 4 and 5A high school level teams. Wait until KU, OU, OSU, Baylor, etc. show up then you'll see this nothing bunch for what they are. There will be plenty of seats at the USA too, regardless of the attendance figures that show 7500+ at each game so far. Come early, have a coke and some soggy nachos, listen to "Raaaaider-Poooower" a thousand times, and go home and take a Pepto tablet.

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Tku RdRdr!

The rest of you guys need to chillax...geez! Sometimes a lesser team will sneak up on you...duh...if you don't know that, you really shouldn't be posting on an sports blog. They shot terribly and had to rely on defense to win, defense is 80% in basketball.

If you can turn up defensive heat and overcome horrid shooting to win, that effort should be appreciated (even if against a lesser team),not criticized. Why don't y'all give this 4-0 team a break...they did after all beat the 3 other teams by an average of 24...new starters, new coach.With fans like y'all, who needs visitors.

The attendance will come once they prove it's worth their time. That can start with an impressive showing against UA. I hope the fans do come out for that game, this team is excited to play the cats. I guess we shouldn't be expecting y'all there though.

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