If beating Chris Beard’s Longhorns in Austin was just a deal, Texas Tech fans took it personal
Texas Tech fans — and there were many at the Erwin Center — had a chance to celebrate another game-changing win over former coach Chris Beard.
For current technical coach Mark Adams, Saturday’s 61-55 win over Texas and its former boss in Beard was more relief than elation.
“I don’t like playing against my friends, and I think he feels the same way,” Adams said. “We were lucky that time ran out and we were able to win.”
Adams had a solid rationale for his reasoning. After spending the first 37 minutes or so imposing their will on Texas — particularly defensively and physically in the paint — the Red Raiders nearly lost a 10-point lead before hanging on.
Not everyone agreed with the sentiment, whether in the Tech locker room or in the stands.
The memories of Beard’s decision to lock down Lubbock last April for big money and high expectations in Texas are still too fresh, the feeling of betrayal too raw.
“With all due respect to them, it was personal,” technical guard Clarence Nadolny said afterwards. “You don’t want to lose to the guy who left you. … Everyone was emotionally attached to this game.
A junior from France, Nadolny was the unlikely X-factor of the match. Tenacious and physical but far from a pure shooter, Nadolny scored 14 points, matching his tally from his previous seven games.
His key offensive rebound and free throw with 23 seconds left gave Tech a four-point lead and snuffed out any thoughts of a Texas comeback.
A 9-0 run fueled by four Tech turnovers had put Texas within a point at 56-55 when Andrew Jones hit a 3-point wing. The Longhorns would not score again.
Jones finished with a game-high 20 points. Forward Bryson Williams led Tech with 17 points.
With the win, No. 11 Tech (21-6, 10-4 Big 12) remained tied for second in the conference with Baylor, behind Kansas. The Texas No. 20 (19-8, 8-6) lost for only the second time this season at home.
Each team was without a key player. Tech was less do-it-all goaltender Kevin McCullar (ankle) for the second straight game. Texas’ Tre Mitchell missed his second game after taking personal time off.
A sold-out crowd at the Erwin Center included thousands of tech fans dressed in red and black who had accessed Texas’ ticketing system. Texas responded by ending ticket sales quickly but not soon enough. School officials, including Beard, encouraged students with the athletic “Big Ticket” to attend, saying they would not be turned away.
While Texas had the majority of fans, Tech fans were a distinct presence, giving the game an NCAA Regional Finals vibe. When Jones missed it all on a shot in the second half, he was greeted with an “airball” chant. At home. Some of the Tech-branded tortillas took off during the game. Even “The Eyes of Texas” was booed.
“It didn’t feel like a road game as much as it usually does because we had this sea of red,” Adams said.
Texas’ top two scorers never really got into it, even though they weren’t alone. The Longhorns shot just 28.3% and went more than eight minutes scoreless on the field in the first and second half. Tech outshot Texas 26-10 in the lane.
Top scorer Timmy Allen was restricted by fouls at 14 minutes and managed just six points. Playmaker Marcus Carr went scoreless, going 0-6 from the field to go with four turnovers to two assists.
Adams said containing Carr was a priority for Tech’s defense.
“There’s no doubt that I didn’t play my best today,” Carr said. “Certainly a lot of things fall on my shoulders. I apologize to the coach and my teammates for this. Just try to go out there and make games another way.
Beard declined to criticize his team or dwell on the loss, saying he would stay positive.
“They don’t give the [NCAA] trophy in February. They do it in April,” Beard said. “We are disappointed not to have played better today…
“It’s an injured dressing room at the moment for us. But, we will be back.
Ross Fisher in Austin contributed to this report.
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