LUBBOCK, Texas – Mark Adams stayed on the South Plains even before he knew he would get the job as Texas Tech's new coach. Chris Beard got on a plane 10 months ago to Austin, and Red Raiders fans had waited since then to let him know how they felt about him leaving for their most-hated rival.
Kevin Obanor had 17 points with five 3-pointers as the 14th-ranked Red Raiders beat No. 23 Texas 77-64 on Tuesday night in Beard's return as coach of his alma mater, in an emotionally charged arena packed with more than 15,000 fans who used to love the coach who took their team to the national championship game only three years ago.
“Tonight wasn’t about me, guys. I’m on the record my whole career. And you guys understand that I respect the opponent and I respect the game,” Beard insisted afterward. “And congratulate Texas Tech on a good home win in the Big 12. Had a great crowd tonight. I thought it was a good college basketball game.”
The game had been sold out for weeks, and it was raucous long before tipoff. It stayed that way through the end of the victory that kept the Red Raiders undefeated at home.
Kevin McCullar had 19 points, including 12 of 15 free throws, while Bryson Williams added 16 points and Davion Warren 10. The Red Raiders (17-5, 6-3 Big 12) took sole possession of third place halfway through the conference schedule behind 10th-ranked Kansas and eighth-ranked Baylor — teams they have beaten this season.
“I’m relieved, I’m tired but also so proud. Just appreciative of the way our players played, they showed a lot of heart,” Adams said, “It was just such an awesome environment. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like that.”
Obanor, Williams and Warren are all senior transfers, and among eight newcomers this season for Adams, the 65-year-old coach who was Beard's top assistant, but stayed and got the job he had always desired at his alma mater.
When asked about not getting on that plane with Beard last April, Adams responded, “Well, it looks pretty good looking through the rear-view mirror.”
Marcus Carr had 16 points to lead Texas (16-6, 5-4). Courtney Ramey had 12 points, all on four 3-pointers before halftime.
Beard got a much different reception in Lubbock than Rick Barnes got in Austin on Saturday night, when the coach who last took Texas to the Final Four in 2003 paid a visit with his Tennessee team. Longhorns players wore shirts during warm-ups that read “Thank You Coach Barnes,” and there was a video tribute before the game.
Multiple security personnel surrounded Beard when he first came out on the court a few minutes before the game to a cascade of boos.
Many students entered the arena by walking over a door mat with Beard's face on it. Several times there were chants in unison using an expletive directed at Texas and Beard, similar to those that were heard when the Longhorns team bus arrived at the arena for a workout the previous day. There were other vulgar chants and a lot of boos throughout, but it appeared that nothing got thrown on the court from the stands.
Beard, also with the Red Raiders from 2001-11 as associate head coach for Bob Knight and then Pat Knight, had a 112-55 record the past five seasons as their head coach. Tech went to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2018, then a year later finished 31-7 with an overtime loss to Virginia in the national championship game.
After both teams traded a couple of baskets to start the game, with Ramey making a 3 for a 5-4 Texas lead, the Red Raiders went ahead to stay with a 15-2 run that Marcus Santos-Silva capped when he tipped in a missed 3-pointer by Daniel Batcho that first bounced on the rim several times.
The Longhorns were within 55-49 on two free throws by Carr with 8:44 left. They didn't get any closer, with Obanor making a 3-pointer from the right corner that hit the side of the rim, bounced up and then went on.
“I thought we withstood the emotional start to the game. We were right there after four or five minutes. First half, we had a stretch we sure would have liked to get back,” Beard said. “Games like this, you’ve got to have some great individual performances. And I thought Texas Tech's three or best four players, in my opinion, all played great.”
Texas: The Longhorns came into the game leading the nation allowing only 54.5 points a game. Texas Tech had 43 by halftime after shooting 55.6% (15 of 27), and reached 55 on another 3 by Obanor that rim-rattling 3 with 10:49 left in the game.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are 14-0 at home this season, and have won 17 in a row at the United Supermarkets Arena going back to the final three home games with Beard as their coach last year.
SIGNS OF THE TIME
There were plenty of homemade posters in the arena, including one that read: “Beard got on the plane, Adams stayed on the plains.” Among the others were “Beardless champions,” and one done in black and white Chick-fil-A text that read “Eat more Bevo.” There were also the in-person live “Woos!” from legendary wrester Ric Flair, who was in the building.
Texas: Third consecutive game against a Top 25 opponent, Saturday at home against No. 20 Iowa State. The Longhorns then play Kansas and Baylor the following week.
Texas Tech: At West Virginia on Saturday.
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