The United Spirit Arena in Lubbock is not much of a home court advantage to the Red Raiders. Wichita State has a better basketball fan-base than Texas Tech. Normally, a matchup with a top ten team would fill any college venue. Not so in Lubbock. Even with nothing better to do in this sleepy West-Texas town, nobody goes to basketball games. Unless the Longhorns or Aggies are in town, the Arena remains largely empty.
Trying to fill out the student section last year, Tech promised students who attended a certain number of nonconference games the best seats when teams like Texas and Texas A&M came to town. Approximately 70 more students came to early games compared to comparable dates a year earlier.
An average of 517 students attended each of Tech’s first six games, meaning nearly 2,900 lower-bowl seats reserved for them remained empty. Hoping to rally their peers, team managers went door-to-door in the dorms the night before Tech hosted 12th-ranked Washington on Dec. 3, 2009.
Despite a three game winningish streak for the Red Raiders, and the reigning Big XII Player of the Week, it is very possible that displaced Jayhawk fans might outnumber the homers. A winter storm is rolling across North Texas this morning, and Texans generally don’t venture out in the ice and snow. Expect to see more than a few empty seats tonight on ESPNU, and be thankful that Bobby Knight is not covering the game.