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Tech Stock Is Up
How has Bob Knight reversed Texas Tech's fortunes in his first season with the Red Raiders? Let's count the ways: Texas Tech equaled last season's win total (nine) on Dec. 22. After finishing tied for last in the Big 12 with a 3-13 record last season, it was tied for fourth place in the league as of Sunday with a 4-2 record (15-3 overall). On Jan. 19 it vanquished then No. 6 Oklahoma State after having failed to defeat the Cowboys in eight previous tries. Last Saturday it beat Oklahoma, sixth in last week's poll, for its second victory over a Top 10 team in eight days and the Red Raiders' first-ever back-to-back wins over Top 10 opponents.
The defeat of the Sooners was in itself a remarkable turnaround—from the teams' meeting in Norman two weeks earlier. In that game Oklahoma took a 22-point halftime lead and won by 26; on Saturday, Texas Tech led by as many as 16 points in the second half and won, 92-79. The Red Raiders committed only 12 turnovers, after having coughed up 20 in the previous meeting, and also made 56.7% of their shots, compared with 35.5% the first time.
"Coach Knight has done a phenomenal job with this team," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "In the second half we couldn't stop them. We didn't score baskets in transition because we were taking the ball out of the net and walking it up the court"
Indeed, for all of Knight's renown as a teacher of tenacious man-to-man defense, it's on offense that he has made the biggest difference in Lubbock. Whereas his predecessor, James Dickey, ran a structured system, Knight has liberated his players by implementing the motion offense used by his teams at Indiana.
The change has had an especially positive effect on 6' 5" sophomore guard Andre Emmett and 6'11" senior Andy Ellis, who at week's end were ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in scoring in the Big 12. Baylor coach Dave Bliss describes Ellis, who had raised his field goal percentage to 51.5% from 44.4% a year ago, as "the perfect center for the motion offense." Likewise, Emmett, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday, had improved his shooting to 52.4% from 39.5%.
"The motion isn't really an offense," Ellis says. "Coach Knight put down a set of guidelines, and it's up to us to make the read. I don't know how a defense can prepare for it, because we don't know what we're going to do."
Knight's arrival has, to say the least, generated a lot of buzz in Lubbock Announced attendance at home games was up from 9,557 per game last season to 13,473 through Sunday. A winner at Texas Tech not only means better crowds, but it also bolsters the league's claim to being the nation's best conference. "His presence has done a ton for our league," Texas coach Rick Barnes says of Knight. "Anybody who thought Texas Tech wasn't going to win games this season isn't very smart."
UConn Grows Up
Moments after Connecticut's 100-98 overtime win over then No. 10 Arizona last Saturday in Tucson, Huskies coach Jim Calhoun congratulated freshman Emeka Okafor, his starting center, on a sterling 19-point, 15-rebound, nine-block performance. Instead of basking in the praise, however, Okafor fretted that he'd missed a layup that might have sealed the win at the end of regulation. "I don't like knowing I could have done something better," Okafor said later.