RALEIGH, N.C. — Toward the end of September, Toddrick Gotcher sat in a chair the lobby of the United Supermarkets Arena as he discussed what he saw from his teammates during their Canadian Foreign Tour back in August.
The Red Raiders went 4-0 against their opponents up north. Freshmen Jordan Jackson and C.J. Williamson fared well for their first times in Texas Tech uniforms. The group of sophomores seemed more confident in the system. Junior Aaron Ross looked like a different person as he was finally fully healthy.
RALEIGH, N.C. — As Texas Tech walked off the court at PNC Arena after a 10-point loss to Butler, the Red Raiders were disappointed.
That they couldn’t hang on to overtake Butler and advance to the second round.
That the easy shots and free throws weren’t falling while the Bulldogs were making it rain from the perimeter.
That this was the final game of the season and this team wouldn’t be together anymore.
But there was something in their eyes, a fire if you will, that ignited once the final buzzer rang.
One of determination.
RALEIGH, N.C. — It was a tie game inside PNC Arena in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
It had been a back-and-forth affair throughout the second period between No. 8 Texas Tech and No. 9 Butler as the differential between the two teams was never more than a possession.
However, with just over eight minutes to go, after Texas Tech missed a jumper and a tip in, Bulldog forward Kelan Martin sank a 3-pointer in transition to reclaim their lead over the Red Raiders.
Four months ago, Butler was placed in one half of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off bracket, while Texas Tech was placed in the other.
After beating Missouri State in the opening round, the Bulldogs went on to defeat Temple before the lost by 10 to Miami in the championship game. The Red Raiders, however, lost their opening round by 10 to Utah before they defeated Mississippi State and Minnesota.
RALEIGH — From watching Tubby Smith lead Kentucky to a national title in 1998, Butler coach Chris Holtmann has a great respect for the man that will be standing on the other side of the court from him Thursday morning.
So does his mother.
“You know, Tubby Smith is my mom’s second favorite basketball coach,” said Holtmann, a native of Nicholasville, Kentucky. “He’s her favorite Kentucky basketball coach. ... Anybody that has been around Coach Smith has great respect and admiration for who he is.”
RALEIGH, N.C. — Of the 68 teams that received a ticket to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, seven Big 12 teams were placed among the top 29 seeds overall.
But now they have to back that up with wins, especially after last season, when only two squads advanced to the Sweet 16 and no Big 12 team made it to the Elite Eight.
High-speed internet has made Tubby Smith’s life in March a little bit easier.
From 1994 to 2013 the Texas Tech coach led a team to the NCAA Tournament in 17 of those 20 seasons, leading Minnesota, Kentucky, Georgia and Tulsa into the field of 64 — now 68 — multiple times each.
For most of those times, the process was a little more arduous for Smith and his staff. They had to wait on tapes to be sent, trading whatever they could to update their scouting reports and film.
A year ago, the United Supermarkets Arena was empty.
Texas Tech basketball fans had already begun looking ahead to what the next season might bring a few weeks earlier.
What a difference a year makes.
Sunday afternoon, Tubby Smith and his wife, Donna, were seated on a leather couch on the arena floor while the rest of the Red Raiders claimed couches around them.
With Texas Tech fans seated in the stands behind them, the Red Raiders awaited their postseason fate.
Red Raiders make tournament for first time since 2006-07 season
Texas Tech is going dancing in Raleigh, North Carolina.
And the field it could face is more than a little familiar.
The Red Raiders were announced as the No. 8 seed in the Midwest bracket for 68-team NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Sunday. Texas Tech faces Butler, which it had the chance to watch when the two teams played in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in November, on Thursday at 11:40 a.m. in the second round of the tournament. The Bulldogs are the No. 9 seed in the Midwest.