LUBBOCK, Texas (AP)—Bob Knight’s never been a fan of the 3-point shot. But he waffled a smidge after Texas Tech beat the second Top 10 team it’s faced in five days.
The Red Raiders hit only seven field goals in the second half of their 70-68 win over No. 6 Texas A&M on Wednesday night but five of them were from beyond the arc.
“That doesn’t make me feel any better about 3-point shots,” Knight said. “I don’t like it, didn’t like it, not going to like it. It was good tonight, though.”
Martin Zeno sank a free throw with 24.9 seconds remaining to put Tech up 68-67. The Aggies had a chance with 9.3 seconds remaining, but Zeno stole the inbounds pass from Dominique Kirk to Joseph Jones and was fouled. He sank both free throws to seal the win. He finished 13-of-14 from the line.
Tech beat then-No. 5 Kansas 69-64 Saturday.
“I think it’s a unique situation for kids to have been able to beat two highly ranked teams in a five-day period,” Knight said. “That was a good thing for our players to see that they could do that.”
As they did Saturday, most of the 5,898 students—many who began camping out for tickets Tuesday afternoon—swarmed the floor after the win. That’s the most students ever in Tech’s United Spirit Arena, which opened in 1999, and they were surrounded by a near-sellout crowd.
Knight acknowledged that he bought food for some of the students “because I thought they might be (damn) hungry.”
The loss snapped the Aggies 11-game Big 12 win streak, the longest in school history.
Tech (15-5, 4-1 Big 12) hit only one field goal in the final 10:11 of the game, but made 13-of-18 free throws. Darryl Dora hit a 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining to put Tech up 67-66, but Joseph Jones hit a free throw to tie it at 67.
Aggie coach Billy Gillispie said Knight is a great coach and his offense is a reflection of that.
“We haven’t seen a motion offense as well organized,” he said. “I mean it’s the master offense and the master does a great job of doing it. It’s disappointing because we lost and it’s disappointing because they got so many foul shots and they made them.”
Gillispie said the plan on the inbounds pass from Kirk was to call a timeout if the pass to Jones wasn’t open. But he was. There was just a slight adjustment in the play from the way the team has practiced it, Gillispie said.
“He’s wide open, you know,” Gillispie said. “There’s nobody over there on that side. He just made a play where he didn’t throw it over there hard enough.”
Zeno scored 22 points and John Plefka added 17 to lead Tech.
Acie Law scored 26 points and Kirk had 12 to lead the Aggies (16-3, 4-1).
Defending Tech was tough because “they’re just constantly moving,” Law said.
“That’s a very difficult offense to defend,” he said. “They made plays tonight and they made more than we did.”
The last time Bob Knight won back-to-back games against teams ranked in the Top 10 was in January 2002, his first season in West Texas. The Red Raiders beat then-No. 6 Oklahoma State 94-70 and a week later Tech downed Oklahoma 92-79 when the Sooners were ranked sixth.
There were six ties and eight lead changes in Wednesday night’s game.
Knight said his team is more experienced this year. In three of Tech’s last five games, the Red Raiders have won despite being tied or down.
“We could not have won this game last year,” he said. “We’re just a better team than we were a year ago.”
Tech, which shot 57 percent from the field in the first half, got only seven buckets in the second half. Five of those were from 3-point range, though.
After leading most of the first half, Tech hit a dry spell and allowed the Aggies to come back to tie it 34-34 at halftime. But the Red Raiders weren’t as patient as in their win over Kansas on Saturday. They weren’t able to score inside and were forced to shoot from 3-point range, but with good results (5-of-10).
They hit eight of their first 10 shots and went up by 26-17 on a jumper by Zeno at the 8:14 mark. But Tech didn’t score another field goal for nearly 6 minutes, allowing the Aggies to claw their way back. Texas A&M took its first lead at 33-32 with less than a minute remaining when Martellus Bennett scored inside.