College Basketball Insider: Tubby's Texas Tech team exceeding expectations

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2014 - 10:33 PM

Texas Tech is winning, or at least playing well, in February, unlike Coach Smith’s teams at Minnesota.

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Coach Tubby Smith’s Texas Tech team, with a 5-8 record in the Big 12 Conference this season, is exceeding expectations, which his Gophers team rarely did.

Photo: JUSTIN HAYWORTH • Associated Press,

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When Tubby Smith was fired after the Gophers’ second-round loss to Florida in the NCAA tournament, one of the major complaints among fans and administration was that in his six years at Minnesota, the legendary coach was never able to take the program to the next level.

Now, in his first season at Texas Tech, the 62-year-old coach appears on the verge of doing just that.

After wins over TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to start the month (I guess it’s not Smith to blame for the Gophers’ perennial February dives), the Red Raiders are 5-8 in the Big 12 — perhaps the best conference in college basketball right now.

Texas Tech also threatened to pull off huge upsets in its past two games.

None of this would be so stunning — Tech is still just tied for seventh in the 10-team conference, after all — if it wasn’t for the fact that the Red Raiders have been SO bad in recent years. Tech hasn’t won more than five conference games since 2008 and has managed a total of just four wins in the previous two seasons. With five more games left on the regular-season schedule, the Raiders even have a shot to dance for the first time since 2007.

And no such spark was expected this season. The Raiders returned some experience but were expected by most to finish near the Big 12 basement.

Suddenly Smith — who coached Kentucky to a national championship in 1998 but won just one NCAA tournament game during his tenure in Minneapolis — is looking like a great hire for a team unworthy even of the term “rebuilding.”

And the sense of hope seems to be palpable. Tech sold out the normally echo-filled United Spirit Arena for its game against Oklahoma State, only the 11th sellout in the 15-year-old building’s history, last occurring in 2007.

“It is wonderful,” Smith told the Dallas Morning News. “It shows the hard work of a lot of people to make this happen. We hope that we can play to the level of support that we have gotten. I am excited, and our players are excited. It also gives validation that we are moving in the right direction with the program.”

Perhaps the most telling improvement can be seen in the Raiders’ recent losses.

At No. 17 Iowa State on Saturday, Tech — which Smith has made into a very sound offensive rebounding team, just as he did with the Gophers — grabbed 14 offensive boards and slowed the pace enough to keep it close with the Cyclones. Tech lost by just six in one of the toughest road environments there is.

Then, against Kansas in Lubbock on Tuesday, the Raiders shot 50 percent from three-point range and had five players score in double digits only to lose on a last-second layup by Andrew Wiggins, nearly upsetting the No. 8 Jayhawks.

Regardless of what the Raiders do down the stretch, it seems obvious that Texas Tech, led by Smith in what most likely will be his final coaching job, is better than we thought it would be. Significantly better.

There weren’t many times at Minnesota people could say that about Smith’s teams.

College basketball short takes

• With Syracuse finally falling, just one undefeated remains: Wichita State. Just how shocking was that Orange loss at home to Boston College, which was 6-17 coming in? ESPN Stats & Info tells us that BPI, ESPN’s version of the Ratings Percentage Index, gave BC just a 1.2 percent shot at beating Syracuse, far worse than last season’s biggest upset.

In that one — TCU’s win over Kansas in February — BPI handed the Horned Frogs a 4.5 percent chance at victory.

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Kansas City - J. Vargas 7:07 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
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Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
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Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 3:00 PM
San Jose
Boston 6:00 PM
Toronto
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Montreal
New Jersey 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Dallas 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Chicago 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Nashville
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Florida 8:00 PM
Arizona
Washington 9:00 PM
Calgary
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
Rice
Maryland 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
UAB 0 1st Qtr 13:59
Arkansas 0
Rutgers 0 1st Qtr 13:49
(16) Nebraska 0
Texas 0 1st Qtr 14:40
(11) Kansas State 0
Minnesota 0 1st Qtr 14:00
Illinois 0
Memphis 0 1st Qtr 15:00
SMU 0
North Carolina 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Los Angeles 1:30 PM
Seattle
D.C. 3:00 PM
Montreal
Toronto FC 6:30 PM
New England
Portland 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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