After Wednesday’s 71-68 loss to Colorado in United Spirit Arena, Texas Tech coach Pat Knight said Sylvester Stallone should have saved some money for his movie “The Expendables” by casting some college basketball coaches instead of big-name stars.
After all, Knight said, college basketball coaches are expendable, that’s why they get into the business.
“We’ve lost seven games in the last minute,” Knight said about his team’s losses this year. “This program’s competitive… Honestly if I’m going to be coaching here, I’m going to be coaching somewhere else — I’ve proven that I run a clean program, I don’t cheat, my players graduate and we have discipline.
“So if you don’t want me here, there’s going to be someone else who wants me. But that’s part of the job.”
Knight defended the state of Tech basketball after the Red Raiders (12-17, 4-9) clinched their fourth consecutive Big 12 Conference losing season.
He said he’s proud of taking over the program from his father, hall-of-fame coach Bob Knight, because it was a challenge.
“People can write and say anything they want about me, but the one thing they can’t say is that I ever took the safe or easy way out,” Knight said.
But Knight wasn’t the only one frustrated with Wednesday’s loss. Tech guard John Roberson, who led the Red Raiders with 18 points, said he was fed up with some of the things he sees in the stands during Tech’s games: empty seats.
“I haven’t complained in four years, but the crowd was awful,” Roberson said. “We didn’t have nobody here cheering us, and that’s ridiculous for this to be a winnable game and for us to be a playing another Big 12 (Conference) school for nobody to show up. And I haven’t complained in four years, but that was ridiculous.
“I’m not going to blame it on them, we could have come out with more energy – but let’s be real.”
Tech senior Mike Singletary, who scored 17 points in his highest point production since a 25-point outburst against Oklahoma State on Jan. 29, agreed with his teammate.
“It’s hard man, it’s hard whenever you look up into the stands and you don’t have nobody making noise. It’s just tough, man, it’s tough,” Singletary said.
The Red Raiders came out completely flat in front of an announced crowd of 8,805 — the United Spirit Arena seats more than 15,000. Tech coach Pat Knight called the first half the “worst half” he’s seen all year out of his team.
After tying the game at six on a Robert Lewandowski turnaround jumper with three minutes and 57 seconds elapsed in the match, the Red Raiders went 4:37 without another point. During the drought, Tech missed five shots and turned the ball over twice. A Roberson 3-pointer from the top of the key eventually stopped the bleeding.
However, the Red Raiders’ shooting woes continued the rest of the half en route to their lowest scoring output of any half of basketball this season. The Buffs didn’t shoot much better — but they did take a 33-21 lead into the intermission.
Tech shot a paltry 25 percent from the floor, scoring just seven field goals in the half. To go along with their shooting, Tech’s self-inflicted wounds also were kept to a minimum as Colorado (17-11, 6-7) scored only seven points off eight Red Raider turnovers.
The second half was a different story for the Red Raiders. Sparked by the senior leadership of Roberson and Singletary, Tech went on a tear and tied the game up after only 6:27 elapsed in the half. In fact, they matched their first-half scoring output in the same run.
The two teams fought back and forth after the Red Raiders tied the game, resulting in four ties and 10 lead changes. Down the stretch, the Buffs built a three-point lead with only 15 seconds left leading up to the final series.
Knight put in his best 3-point shooters, and the Red Raiders tried for a ball screen to free one of them. But the Buffs’ defense was too consistent, barely allowing David Tairu to launch up a last-second 3-point attempt that found nothing but iron.
The Red Raiders came back largely because of the play of Roberson and Singletary, who combined for 29 second-half points.
Singletary said he just looked at Roberson in the locker room at halftime, and the pair knew they would have to keep playing no matter what.
“I mean we’re seniors, man, (these are) our last games, we’ve got two home games left,” Roberson said. “I mean, we’re not going to let the crowd affect us, if they’re not going to come out they’re not going to come out.
“But we tried; we didn’t get it done. That’s the bottom line.”