Texas Tech coach Bob Knight failed in his first chance to earn his 900th win, and Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon is hoping his team can delay the celebration a little longer.
Knight again tries to become the first Division I men’s coach to reach the milestone on Wednesday when his Red Raiders host the 10th-ranked Aggies.
Knight is trying to join former Texas coach Jody Conradt and Tennessee’s Pat Summitt as the only Division I coaches ever to win 900 games. Knight earned his 100th victory at Army and went 662-239 and won three national championships from 1971-2000 at Indiana.
Last season, Knight won No. 880 to become the winningest Division I men’s coach.
“I don’t think, unless (Duke) Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski coaches a long time, you’ll ever see anybody win 900 games,” said Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton, whose team beat Texas Tech 74-55 on Saturday in Knight’s first chance at No. 900. “I pull for those guys to win every night out, except for the few times they play us.”
Martin Zeno, who leads the Red Raiders (9-6, 0-1 Big 12) with 16.1 points per game, scored a team-high 10 against the Cowboys, and Esmir Rizvic added nine points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Knight, hard to please throughout his long career, wasn’t pleased with his top scorer.
“Zeno made a lot of mistakes for a four-year player today, a lot of mistakes,” Knight said. “… He just doesn’t have a good feel for what he’s doing, or hasn’t had. He’s been a real disappointment.”
Knight led his Red Raiders to a pair of wins over Texas A&M (15-1, 1-0) last season—two of only seven defeats the Aggies suffered while winning a school-record 27 games. This season, the Aggies are 15-1 for the first time since the 1921-22 season, when they started 16-1, despite losing coach Billy Gillispie to Kentucky and star guard Acie Law to the NBA.
“I don’t think there’s been any letdown at all,” said Texas Tech assistant Pat Knight, who took his Dad’s place in Monday’s Big 12 coaches’ call. “We’ve been talking about that.”
Mark Turgeon, who took over for Gillispie, is facing Bob Knight for the first time, but said he has learned a lot from the legendary coach attending clinics he has run.
“I’ve learned a lot from him, and I have studied him,” Turgeon said. “I’m not going to coach exactly like him, because I’m not totally into motion like he is, but I stole some philosophies offensively and a lot of them defensively.”
Turgeon’s Aggies won their Big 12 opener 86-69 over Colorado on Saturday for their eighth straight win. Dominique Kirk led six players in double figures with 15 points for Texas A&M, which suffered its lone defeat—78-67 at Arizona on Dec. 2—in its only other road game.
However, Turgeon wasn’t pleased with his team, which allowed Colorado to shoot 62 percent, including 77 percent in the second half. The Aggies are holding opponents to 36.6 percent shooting, good for seventh in the country.
“I don’t get on guys very often,” Turgeon said. “I don’t get on them especially after a 17-point win, but they know I was disappointed in their defense today.”
Texas A&M also has a strong offense, ranking third in the nation in field goal percentage (51.9) and fifth in scoring margin (20.7).
“I know it will be an honor to coach against him,” Turgeon said of Knight. “I’m hoping that they feel the pressure of 900, the kids will and that they don’t play well, but it will be a good night.”