FINAL, TECH, 84-75
Not good. Not good at all. That’s a lot of points.
3:20 left, TECH, 73-68
Mike with the oop. Trapping has helped, but now Zeno is getting going. Fred Brown struggles under the basket, which we’ve seen a time or two before. Pullen with a 3, and they’re back in it. This place, not real loud to start with, has had the life sucked out of it. Jake again. Oh my… Mike misses a wide open 3. Zeno drills his first free throw. And his second. Back to six points. Bill, the second-half hero, picks up his 4th with 4:06 left. He has 18 points in the second half and one foul. Not bad. Roberson misses his first free throw but drains the second. Jake with a drive.
7:55 left, TECH, 66-58
No, they haven’t regressed. Don’t start with that talk. Mentally tough enough on the road? Maybe, maybe not. Right now, down 21 points against a solid – at best – Texas Tech club, it’s hard to figure where the Wildcats went wrong. Well, Blake Young just lost his cool, nearly head-butting Esmir Rizvic. Double technical fouls. Something interesting is brewing. As I’ve been crafting my game story – you have to take some liberties and assume certain things, which I’m not going to completely spell out here – the Wildcats have clawed back into this. How? Bill going to work on the block. Tech doesn’t have an answer his athleticism. The K-State bench is up and getting involved. It’d down to 10 points. Brown nails a 3, and it’d down to eight. Serious momentum shift, and it’s kind of weird. Mike works and it’s a six-point game. What was once a 22-point game is now 8 as Zeno cuts and scores. Brown’s 3 is swatted by Zeno into the fourth row.
15:53 left, TECH, 55-36
Mike discarded his tank top before the second half started, but even that didn’t help. He spun and got the rim with a good look, but left it short. He was dismayed. With the first minute and a half, the lead was extended to 16 points. Now, it seems like Tech can’t miss. No stops on defense for K-State, and it looks like the Wildcats are content with not playing the spoiler on Pat Knight Day. Maybe the comeback starts with a charge – with three fouls, Bill plants himself in front of the rim. The call goes his way. Little else has for K-State.
HALFTIME, TECH, 40-28
Mike’s at the line. He misses but hits the second. K-State is three of 10 at the line, which, again, I’m not a coach, but that’s not good. Mike almost has his 20th double-double of the season – he’s got eight points and nine rebounds. He might be due for one of those big second-half explosions. Meanwhile, he’s at the line again. The first is good and the second is too. It’s one of those nights – Mike gets an offensive board off a steal and goes up for the flat-footed dunk. He misses it, and the crowd roars its approval. The dysfunction continues. Stew – who has one point – is called for an offensive foul. Trevor Cook scores. Weird sequence – Mike called for a tech – you guys probably know more about what happened than I do. Anyway, the crowd starts yelling, “Beasley sucks.” Mike responds by clapping his hands enthusiastically. I wonder if this is going to get him going… Voskuil is hand-checked by Jake. Voskuil makes one of two, and he has 19 at the half. Wow. I repeat, wow.
3:53 left in 1st half, TECH, 35-23
My suspicions are confirmed – Voskuil is a driveway shooter. Get him on the move and he’s not the same. Blake gets two, but then he forces a 3 on the ensuing possession. That one was a head-scratcher. They just flashed Bob Knight on the screen. The crowd cheered enthusiastically and, predictably, Knight didn’t respond. Voskuil proves my point again with a ridiculous drive that he was praying for a foul call on, but no dice. But now he’s at the foul, where he has to be automatic. He misses! That’s the biggest upset of the night thus far. K-State has tightened up the defense considerably. Voskuil is left alone, and you know what happens then. Mike is frustrated on offense, it appears. Man, you have to be solid with your scheme and principles when you defend the Red Raiders. There’s a Fred Brown sighting. Bill’s back with two fouls with 5:01 left. A Tech fan yells, “Beasley, you’re trash.” Yep, trash that is about to be worth more than you and everyone in your family combined. Bill’s at the line and he misses again. He’s yet to hit a freebie tonight. Now it’s mental – he misses again. And there he goes – picking up his 3rd foul just 26 seconds later. Frank doesn’t even look at him. Jake drives deep, dishes to Mike but his momentum carries him into a Tech defender. Offensive foul. Backdoor for Trevor Cook, and the place finally gets loud. Frank is literally in Jake’s face, leaning in as he screams and points towards the Tech bench. He’s hot.
9:30 left in 1st half, TECH, 26-21
Nice defensive play by DK, but then he’s called for traveling. Go figure. Mike fouls Esmir Rizvic, one of those bigs Pat Knight has threatened to not renew a scholarship for next year. He hits one of two. Another K-State turnover on the other end – the Wildcats already have five. But then Mike gets a layup in transition, but then Voskuil drills a 3 on the other end. Tech runs its offense – not that there was any doubt. Stew at the line and makes one of two – K-State has made two free throws in six attempts. OK, this is how good of a coach I am – I think it’s time to start guarding Voskuil, who rips another 3. In fact, he hasn’t missed yet – he’s 4-for-4 for 11 points. But Bill gets a 3 of his own, and Tech burns a timeout. The Wildcats are hanging around.
11:16 left in 1st half, TECH, 19-13
A turnover as Blake tries to feed Mike in the post. Roberson tries to challenge Mike but is denied. Stew is covering Zeno, which is an interesting matchup – just as I finish typing that Zeno blows by him for a deuce. Jake with an acrobatic finish. Crowd gets on Mike as he explains how he’s being forearmed. It’s DK time, folks. Walker at the line first, though. And they boo Mike as he takes a seat. Bill misses both free throws. There’s no energy in this place at all. Jake with a nice drive and 13-footer. Michael Prince is fouled by Bill. Prince hits the first, . Frank is pacing the sideline, and I think he just did “the Wooly” – he gave the thumbs-up. I’m certain he was calling a play, but it was still cool to see. Walker will a pull-up, but Roberson gets the rack unimpeded on the other end. Frank’s not happy, but there’s no quick hook. Meanwhile, Bill is starting to heat up – but so is Tech. The Red Raiders are hitting 66.7 percent of their shots. This game is starting to unravel, mostly for K-State. Jake was a little – no, a lot – out of control. He’ll be on the bench coming out of the timeout.
15:59 left in 1st half, TECH, 10-5
His nickname in the media guide is Deacon, so that’s what I’ll call Chris Merriewether from now on. He drew the start tonight. Stew misses his first shot. And he’s whistled for a foul on Tech’s first possession. John Roberson misses the free throw, though. Not a whole lot of intensity, and I think Frank is going to earn his paycheck tonight. Mike Singletary gets two, and it’s 4-0. Mike is thwarted, banged a bit as he misses. Roberson connects again, and it’s 6-0. Beasley drives around Damir Suljagic and goes glass. Tech fans behind us groan as it goes through the net. That’s Mike, I feel like telling them. But they’ll see for themselves. Not a good start for the Wildcats, but in fairness, it’s early. Mike at the line and hits the first. He misses the second. Transition defense is suspect as Singletary gets to the rack. Patience on the other end pays off as Bill gets two. Voskuil hits a baseline jumper, and Frank urges his team to get up the floor. Deacon sits and in comes Jake.
Kansas State looks loose. I heard Wildcats singing in the hall before they came out for the final shoot-around, which is good. Everybody but Andre Gilbert is dressed, but Gilbert might be wearing the snazziest kicks in the joint – some shiny white leather loafers. Very sheik. Bob Knight is supposedly in the United Spirit Arena, in a suite, but I have yet to confirm this. Stay tuned. The “press box” here at the Arena is high above the floor, nearly as high as our perch at Gallagher-Iba. But the ambiance there is far superior; with about 4:20 to go before the tip, it’s not even close to be filled. I’m told the women outdraw the men here in Lubbock, and that’s difficult for me to comprehend. A few specks of purple in the crowd. Pat Knight walks out to cheers – it’s Pat Knight Day in Lubbock, after all. I don’t think Bob Knight ever gave out a hug/pound – you know, that half-hug, slap on the back that men do – to an opposing coach, but that’s precisely what Pat Knight did to each member of the K-State coaching staff. It’s a different day at Texas Tech. And that might not be a bad thing. By the way, Stew gets the start…