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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Boston College's Sean Marshall found himself all alone, again, and drilled a well-measured three-pointer, again, to cap a 14-4 run that gave the Eagles the lead for good in their first-round victory Thursday over Texas Tech.
That got Bobby Knight off the bench for the first time in a long time. Marshall's second three-pointer in 53 seconds prompted a feeble, "You've got to switch on that screen," from Knight to Tech guard Martin Zeno. If Zeno heard his coach, he didn't show it.
A few minutes later, the Red Raiders had chopped a six-point deficit down to two. BC's Tyrese Rice drove and found an opening. He missed a layup, after which a pair of Texas Tech defenders sauntered over to see what was going on. They did not impede Rice from grabbing his own rebound and laying it back in.
Knight sat there and muttered a mild expletive.
"That was big," a subdued, weary Knight said after the 84-75 defeat, which set up a second-round meeting between BC and Georgetown on Saturday. "If we get the ball there, we're down four or five, and then we come down and score … Did he get a 3-point play on that one? I think he did."
No, coach, he didn't. And you were down two at the time. And it might be time to call it a career. Hand things over to your son, Pat. Get into TV. Dance with the stars, or find some other celebreality venture.
Texas Tech's coach and Texas Tech's defense were one and the same Thursday – tired, ill-prepared and inadequate. All day long, the Red Raiders blew assignments, handled ball screens poorly, gave up layups on simple flex cuts across the lane. All day long, Knight sat and watched with a look of mild discomfort on his face.
BC shot 52.6 percent, and that's with star Jared Dudley (19 points) forced to take it easy after picking up three first-half fouls. Rice drove to the basket whenever he wanted. And when the Red Raiders did attempt to clog the lane, here was BC big man John Oates stepping out for a pair of uncontested three-point swishes in the first half to break a 16-16 tie.
After the second, Oates lifted his index finger skyward, as if he were the other John Oates, teaming up with Daryl Hall for an encore performance of "Maneater." It was that kind of day for BC's offense.
"Offensively, we ran the flex, it was the best we ran the flex all year," Dudley said. "They were having trouble adjusting to it."
Surely, the Eagles deserve credit. They executed well and followed the lead of Rice, a surging sophomore who was tremendous with 26 points. But you watch Texas Tech and you have to wonder what, exactly, the plan may have been.
It's not like Knight hasn't seen the flex offense before. And it's not like the Eagles, who admittedly are more talented, overwhelmed the Red Raiders with their athletes.
"It was just defensive mistakes, you know, they were cutting and screening and we were just missing assignments," said Zeno, whose 21 points kept Texas Tech in it.
"When you play against a good team," Knight said softly, "you always have to give up something defensively."
Who is this guy? The courtside buzz Thursday centered on his seeming indifference throughout the contest. This was nothing like Knight at the end of his Indiana years, when it was constant action – tirelessly working officials and demonstratively instructing players.
And those teams defended doggedly. After all, Knight brought hard-nosed defense to the Big Ten, right? So then he heads off to the Wild West and leaves behind a bunch of 47-46 games for the folks in Big Ten country to enjoy? Thanks a lot, Bobby.
Listen, there's no taking away what Knight has achieved in this sport over an incredible career, regardless of what people think of him. He's the winningest coach ever. He still instructs players and still appears to be somewhat interested in his team's offensive execution.
But you have to wonder if it's getting to be that time. Texas Tech is losing Jarrius Jackson – a real talent who scored just 10 points Thursday in his final game – and two other seniors in the playing rotation.
Knight is bringing in six guys next season, five from Texas, all ranked between No. 5 and No. 21 in the state. That's a real nice haul … in football.
Knight was asked after the game if he's thinking about moving on.
"Naw, not really," he said. "We were talking this morning about what we want to do with the kids we recruited and what we're going to do with the kids we have coming back. I'll talk to them about that when we get home. I think we're going to be able to do some things with the kids we have coming in that are really intriguing and really interesting. But I'm still going fishing tomorrow."
Two things stand out about that quote. First, the "not really" part. Second, since when does Bobby Knight say "naw"?
There was good news to be found in Texas Tech's loss: Boston College's win, setting up the chance for something compelling here Saturday. The itty bitty Red Raiders wouldn't have competed with Georgetown, not the way they play defense.
And not with a coach who looks like he's ready for some yuks with the cast of the "Surreal Life 8."