Associated Press Writer
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP)—Bob Knight knew his Texas Tech team would have its hands full with Lamar.
“I told our team this was the most athletic team we’ve played against all year,” said Knight, who got win No. 898 with the Red Raiders’ 79-77 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday night. “They keep coming at you and coming at you and playing hard.”
Fortunately, he had a clutch player come through in the end.
John Roberson hit two free throws with 22 seconds remaining to give Tech the win and pull Knight within two victories of 900.
Lamar tied it at 77 with 1:20 left when Darren Hopkins stole the ball from Tech and went the length of the court for a layup. Tech’s Charlie Burgess then missed an easy layin with about 41 seconds remaining and Lamar got the rebound before calling a timeout.
Texas Tech got the ball back on a steal by Esmir Rizvic. Roberson, who finished with 21 points, was tripped as he brought the ball up the court. He sank both free throws.
Lamar’s Chad McThay missed a 3-pointer with 2 seconds remaining and Roberson got the rebound to give Tech (8-5) the win.
“We had a chance to win tonight, and that’s all you can ask for in a Big 12 arena on the road,” Lamar coach Steve Roccaforte said. “We didn’t execute that last play like we wanted to, but when McThay shot the ball, I thought it was going in.”
Knight was pleased with what he saw on McThay’s shot.
“Our defense played probably its single best possession we’ve had all year at the end there,” Knight said. “We got pressure on the shot and didn’t give up a rebound.”
Martin Zeno scored 28 points and Alan Voskuil added 16 to lead the Red Raiders.
Tech never trailed and had a chance in the second half to put the game away but Lamar (5-7) wouldn’t cooperate.
Lamar stole the ball 10 times and got 15 points off Tech’s 16 turnovers.
Tech led by 11 with about 12 minutes left but the Cardinals scratched to within 61-58 four minutes later, scoring eight straight points.
“In the second half we played pretty well to go up 11 points and then we just made a lot of mistakes from then on,” Knight said.
Roberson, a freshman, was 7-of-8 from the field, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range.
Lamar Sanders scored 13 points for the Cardinals, while Kenny Dawkins, Matthew Barrow and Lawrence Nwevo each added 11 points.
On the same date last year Knight garnered win No. 880 in front of a sellout crowd, moving him to the top of the career-win list for Division I. He surpassed former North Carolina coach Dean Smith.
Tuesday night’s win brought Knight win No. 898 in front of fewer than 5,100 fans.
Tech led the entire first half but the Red Raiders’ sloppy play—including 11 turnovers—allowed Lamar to stay close. Tech was up 16-6 before the Cardinals scored seven unanswered points. Near the end of the half, Lamar drew within 34-33 on a shot inside by Nwevo.
But Tech’s Zeno hit two buckets and two free throws, and Voskuil added a 3 to put Tech up 41-33. Barrow, though, hit a 3-pointer from about 21 feet at the buzzer to whittle Tech’s lead to 41-36.