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Tech finally hits its’ stride…

Pat Knight’s team has had a rocky season thus far.  Tech fans, who have become few and far between, have been calling for his ouster as head coach. As Texas Tech searches for a replacement to retiring Athletic Director, Gerald Myers, a midseason firing is highly unlikely.  On January 10, Knight made the unusual decision to call out some of his players by name for their “transgessions.”

The seniors have been a problem, I called them in and talked to them because the main scorers are our seniors, David Tairu, John Roberson, Singletary and Reese. You look at our stats all year long and two of them will play well and two of them won’t. Then we will get the other two who aren’t playing well to play well and then the other two that were playing well won’t play well. It’s just been a roller coaster.  For us to do well, I have to have all four of those guys playing good together at once. There was some good play for about 10 minutes there but we need 40 minutes and I need all the seniors playing well together.

——Pat Knight

The next day, the senior-laden Red Raiders responded by handing Knight the worst loss ever in the United Spirit Arena, which opened in 1989.  The Texas Longhorns came into Lubbock and dominated Tech, handing them an 83-52 whipping, scoring 50 points in the paint over Reese, and Singletary.  The four starting seniors were a combined  8 of 33 from the floor with 2 assists.  Not exactly motivated.

If the 31 point loss to the #3 team in the country wasn’t enough, the Red Raiders then traveled to Manhattan later that week, and lost by 34 to the Mildcats, who were completely dismantled by the Jayhawks this weekend.  If the head-to-head scores are any indication of how tonight’s game will play out, a 50 point margin of victory wouldn’t be out of the question.  Tech then lost to Oklahoma, before beginning their current winningish streak.

The Red Raiders have since beaten their last three opponents, Nebraska, Iowa State and Oklahoma State in succession.  Only Iowa State had the misfortune of losing by more than one point, going down 92-83 in Ames.  Tech topped the Cornhuskers 72-71 on a tip-in with 3.8 seconds left, and beat the Cowboys 75-74 in overtime.

So what is the difference in the team with back to back 30 point losses, and the team that has won 3 in a row?  Senior Mike Singletary has caught fire.  The 6’6 small forward obviously poses matchup problems, as Brady Morningstar’s statement shows:

He is a tough guard, a bigger guard. He can do everything on the floor — score, rebound, pass, steal. He’s capable of putting up big numbers. And he can make his team go. He’s a tough matchup, but we’re looking forward to it. It’s so much fun playing guys who are capable of scoring a lot and helping their team. I think if we shut him down, that will be a pretty good start to trying to get our first win in Lubbock (since 2003).                     —Brady Morningstar

Singletary was named the Big XII Player of the Week for his performances last week.  He scored 33 points in the win at Iowa State and 25 in the win over Oklahoma State last week.  Singletary also became the first player in Big XII Conference history to score at least 30 points, grab at least 10 rebounds and dish at least five assists in a single game.

While Brady thinks that he will draw the assignment to guard Singletary, a healthy Travis Releford and Mario Little provide a better  matchup for the Jayhawks, size-wise at least.  Releford played for just over a minute in the blowout of Kansas State, and should be fully recovered from his ankle sprain from a few weeks ago, while Rio has been a steady performer since his suspension.

Regardless, Texas Tech has finally hit its’ stride just before the toughest stretch in the schedule.  After the Jayhawks, Tech will have to face Texas again, followed by Texas A&M, Missouri and Baylor.  If Pat Knight can motivate his team to win 2 out of the next 5, it would go a long way to securing his place at Tech for at least another year.

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Topics: Big 12 Conference, Gerald Myers, Kansas Jayhawks, Mike Singletary, Pat Knight, Texas, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Texas Tech University, United Spirit Arena

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