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Balanced effort paces Texas Tech to win against TCU in Big 12 opener

Posted: January 5, 2013 - 7:53pm  |  Updated: January 6, 2013 - 1:47am
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TCU's Kyan Anderson is blocked by Texas Tech's Dejan Kravic during Tech's 62-53 win on Saturday in Fort Worth.  Joyce Marshall
Joyce Marshall
TCU's Kyan Anderson is blocked by Texas Tech's Dejan Kravic during Tech's 62-53 win on Saturday in Fort Worth.
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FORT WORTH — There were plenty of reasons for Texas Tech coach Chris Walker to worry about what he might get out of his young team when its first road game of the season also doubled as its first Big 12 contest, a double whammy of firsts for eight of the team’s players.

It turned out Tech, which hadn’t left campus since a preseason scrimmage in October, may have just needed to stretch its legs a bit.

The Red Raiders put together their most complete game of the season on Saturday inside Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, beating TCU, 62-53, and matching their entire league win total from a season ago in the process. It was Tech’s first road conference win since Feb. 19, 2011 against Baylor, snapping a 10-game losing streak.

“It definitely feels good to get one under our belt,” said Jordan Tolbert, the hometown kid who authored another strong performance in front of family and friends. “It’s something to build on, and now we have to take it and build on it.”

Tech (8-4, 1-0 in the Big 12 Conference), which won only one conference game in 18 tries last season, got one right off the bat by receiving strong contributions throughout the lineup.

Tolbert narrowly missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Dusty Hannahs hit 4 of 5 3-point attempts for 12 points. Jaye Crockett bounced back from a rare off day Monday to score a team-high 13 points, providing a spark with a thunderous dunk in the second half and some clutch free throws in the game’s final minute.

“Everybody came out and played their roles,” said guard Trency Jackson, who was certainly no exception. “We’re always stressing that on good teams — top 5 teams, top 10 teams — everybody knows their role, and everybody plays their role to the best of their ability.”

Jackson played many. In addition to nailing a momentum-swinging 3-pointer in the second half, he also was one of a handful of players who provided air-tight defense on TCU guards Kyan Anderson and Garlon Green. The pair averaged a combined 25 points per game during non-conference action, but they were held to 15 points on 3 of 22 shooting Saturday.

“We just tried to force them to make the big guys make plays,” Walker said. “It wasn’t always pretty, but we did a good job of keeping it out of Green’s hands and Anderson’s hands. That was the game plan.”

Tech led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but TCU cut the lead to 37-33 on a Green jumper with 14:25 left in the game. But Jackson’s 3-pointer on Tech’s next possession kicked off a 13-4 run over the next six minutes, and the Red Raiders held off a late TCU surge to secure the win.

TCU forward Devonta Abron scored a game-high 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting, but he didn’t get much help. The Horned Frogs (9-5, 0-1) shot only 30 percent (10 of 33) in the second half.

The Red Raiders assisted on 14 of their 23 field goals — Daylen Robinson and Jackson tallied five and four, respectively — and executed at a higher level with their half-court offensive sets than they had all season. Screens were set with more authority, passes hit their mark and standing around was at a minimum. Tech still committed 16 turnovers, but Walker liked the progress.

“You realized playing earlier teams that we could just run up and down and score on them,” Walker said of Tech’s early season schedule. “As we start playing tougher competition, it’s just the evolution of a team, where you need more execution. We have an intricate system where we run a lot of plays and move people around a lot, and to be honest, standing around is not that bad for us sometimes because we like to pound it inside.”

The road only grows tougher from here. TCU is vastly inexperienced and decimated by injury. Much stiffer competition awaits for the Red Raiders, beginning with a home game against Baylor on Tuesday.

But Tech made sure to take time on Saturday, at least for a few hours, and enjoy a feeling that didn’t come around too often last season.

“We fought hard for it,” Tolbert said. “I’m just glad that my team played together.”

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Contract! Contract! Contract!

Okay, it's very early, and I got fooled by the women's opening night road victory. And it was TCU, not KU or BU or FU. Still, I feel confident in not going out on a limb by saying this assures the team of exceeding last years conference win total. Coach Walker deserves a 4 yr deal. Wait til the end of the year and he's likely to have a better offer. C'mon Kirby, pull the trigger. You won't be sorry.



I was all in favor of Walker getting the shot--we really didn't have much choice.

And it is true it is not Walker's team and he should not be accountable for number of conference wins.

But I think I want seven conference wins to go for a 3-year contract, and the contract would not be for big money by Division I standards--that could only come if he put people in the building--which would contribute to a big money deal.

It's true TCU can't play--but if you have somebody you can beat on the road then you need to do it. And Walker did it.


To Wait or not To Wait

It will be interesting to see how the remaining season unfolds. I can already see improvement over "coach kid's" regieme (any of them). I noticed that once we played Arizona, that our attitude changed. Now we value every posession, which we did not before.

So here is what is a stake. If like Coach Walker and you wait to make a decision, then you have no recruiting class for 2013. If you make a decision now and the team improves, then you have the opportunity to bring in more tallent. If you don't, then you write off having a 2013 recruiting class.

@factsarefacts: You cannot hire a coach for a 3 year deal. What recruit would want to sign with TTU if the coach would no longer be there when he became a senior. I also, think as the season goes along it becomes coach Walker's team. Maybe he did not recruit them, but by the end of the year it's his team and his record.


Agreed, it's his first head job, so the pay should be ...

... at whatever entry-level is in college basketball. They gave Knight and Kingsbury 4 years, and neither had/has previous head coaching experience. I just want to be fair and consistent. This season plus 3 more years is a reasonable deal, 4 more would be better. He's relatively young (40's), from Texas (not everyone can be an alum), and has recruiting experience at a major college level (Big East basketball is not Big East football) in a hoops hotbed. He's not the recycled same old-same old.

I'm not politically correct or racially motivated, but our head coaches look like they need some sun. And let us be totally candid and practical: If ever a sport was predominantly made up of one race/ethnic group, basketball is it. Comparing the number of black coaches to % of black players, there's an obvious imbalance.

Coach Walker is the perfect age to have had children at 25 (about when most men actually mature to adulthood), and have them be of college age now. He's an intelligent, honest hoops junkie who believes in tradition (can you say "Harold Hudgens")! And we as a community need that "good ole boy" network in Lubbock/at TTU to be infused with a different perspective and look!

I hear this tired argument about how parents entrust the good Curry's with their daughters. How about we find out if parents will entrust their son (that can shoot) to a man (that can win). I believe some things are random happenstance, and some things happen for a reason. I think we should take advantage of the blessing the Lord has given us. We may, as brothers and sisters in the human race, learn more than just what a winning basketball team looks like!


The Currys

Sheesh, never mind. Like a sore that never seems to completely heal. I would like to see Walker stay. At first I thought, hell pay this guy, looks like hes a winner. Hes also a guy that could bolt for Texas someday, primarily after a decent turnaround here. Not that many coaches have left UT and come to Tech. None that Ive heard of. Maybe meat judging or dominoes. But we've seen the opposite happen. However, if we can keep him for four years, long enough to get the program moving, we should. Leaving the interim tag on long enough to find "a more suitable fit" in this case seems monotonously insane. So far he passes the smell test a lot more than Cincinnati's new football coach did as a person. Lets give this guy a chance as the former interim head coach.

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