Freshmen play big role in win
FORT WORTH — Freshmen mistakes were a part of the equation for Texas Tech guards Josh Gray and Dusty Hannahs on Saturday.
The two first-year players combined for 10 of their team’s 16 turnover’s during Tech’s 62-53 win against TCU. Luckily for the Red Raiders, each made enough plays to make up for their miscues.
Hannahs started for the fourth straight game and was solid again, pouring in 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting from 3-point range. His long ball with 5:20 left gave Tech its largest lead of the game, 57-41, and provided enough breathing room to hold off a late rally from the Horned Frogs.
Gray, too, had big moments. He scored eight points on 4 of 7 shooting to go along with three rebounds, two steals and two assists. His defense also helped limit TCU point guard Kyan Anderson to 1 of 12 shooting.
“Those guys made some great contributions,” Tech coach Chris Walker said. “Josh Gray made some big plays and Dusty hit four 3-pointers. Those freshmen are going to be good players down the road, as long as they get smarter. For Tech not to win a (conference) game on the road last year, and for those freshmen to come in and make big plays, how can I not be happy with them at this point?”
This was a road game?
Saturday was supposed to mark Texas Tech’s first road game of the season, but at times it was difficult to tell which team was really the home squad.
A sizeable and vocal contingent of Tech fans decorated the purple seats inside Daniel-Meyer Coliseum with plenty of red and made their voices heard throughout a 62-53 victory for the Red Raiders.
Tech players acknowledged the crowd as they jogged off the court, flashing the “guns up” sign to a boisterous group of fans. Among the swell of Tech supporters were dozens of Jordan Tolbert’s friends and family members.
“It felt,” Tolbert said, cracking a smile, “like home to me.”
Even though Tech did not have to overcome a hostile crowd to win in Fort Worth, coach Chris Walker said he was pleased with how his team handled its first road trip after a program-record 11-game homestand. The team left early for Metroplex, departing Lubbock at 11 a.m. Thursday in order to get acclimated to a different routine.
“It was maximum focus,” Walker said, “from the dinner last night to the shoot-around, more than we’ve had all year.”
Tech coach Chris Walker likes to have different people speak to his team on occasion to offer different insight, to give his players a view from a different perspective.
Before Texas Tech’s win against TCU on Saturday, Walker invited Harold Hudgens, a member of Texas Tech’s Southwest Conference championship team of 50 years ago, to talk to the current group of Red Raiders.
“He spoke in the locker room today about doing something special, a first,” Walker said. “We got our first conference win today, and that was their first championship. I tell these guys we play each other and we play for those who came before us. That was a nice backdrop.”
Walker accomplished an impressive first in his own right, becoming the only coach in Tech history to win a Big 12 road opener in his first season. In fact, Walker became the first Tech coach since Dell Morgan in 1933 to win his opener in any conference during his first season.
Compiled by Nick Kosmider