800 And Counting ...
Feb 5, 2003
By BETSY BLANEY
LUBBOCK, Texas - Now that Bob Knight has won his 800th game, he's got his next goal in mind.
Nope, not going after Dean Smith's all-time victory record. Rather, Knight wants to get Texas Tech back to even in the Big 12.
"When I wake up tomorrow morning, the most important thing in my mind is we're 3-4 in conference," Knight said Wednesday night.
With fans chanting his name and the magic number, Knight entered the 800 club, becoming only the fourth Division I men's coach to reach the mark in guiding Texas Tech over Nebraska 74-49.
After the victory, Knight took to the microphone and spoke to his supporters.
"I've had some milestones, but I've never had a milestone in front of a crowd that I appreciated so much," he said. "I appreciate very much the support we have and the support that's been given us. Most of all I appreciate the support you students have given us."
When he was finished speaking, his team circled around him, hugging him and jumping up and down.
Fans got into the excitement throughout the game.
The crowd chanted "Bobby!" and "800" during the final couple of minutes of the game. A group of 11 Tech students stood frequently throughout the game, holding up white placards with red lettering that spelled out 1-800-Bob-Nite with the word 'WON' written vertically on the number one.
The Red Raiders (13-5) went on an early 26-0 run, making it easy for Knight to get the milestone win on his second try.
Texas A&M spoiled his first shot Saturday, beating Texas Tech 64-59 in College Station.
Only Smith of North Carolina (879), Adolph Rupp of Kentucky (876) and Mount St. Mary's Jim Phelan (827) have won more than 800 men's games in Division I. With Phelan set to retire after this season, Knight (800-303) would become the active leader.
In his first game as a head coach 38 years ago, Knight's team at Army lost to Princeton 70-49. The next game he turned it around with a 71-62 win over Worcester Tech, and he's not stopped winning since.
"I've probably looked back on the time that I've coached and I don't think there's anything I could have done, had the ability to do, that would have given me as much enjoyment or as much heartache," Knight said.
Knight has been a head coach for 37 years at three Division I schools. He got his 100th victory at Army, then moved to Indiana, where his Hoosiers went 662-239 and won three national championships from 1971-2000.
After a year away from coaching, Knight made a startling comeback in West Texas. In his first season, he took over a Tech team that hadn't had a winning season in four years and went 23-9 and reached the NCAA tournament.
Knight said he plans to build Tech into a solid program before he retires.
"I would like to stay here until we're really good," Knight said. "If I get to the point where I don't think that can happen, I won't coach. But being really good is being able to step out and be able to play anybody."
Overall, Knight is 36-14 with Texas Tech.
There's no time to enjoy Knight's milestone, though, Powell said.
"I'm glad we got it, but we have to stay focused," he said. "We have too many games left. There's been too many times where we've relaxed. We still have nine conference games left."
Nebraska (9-12, 1-7) led only once in the early going before Tech took command. The Cornhuskers were held scoreless for more than eight minutes in the first half and without a field goal in the first six minutes of the second half.
The Red Raiders fell behind 5-0 early, but scored on 10 of their next 13 possessions to lead 26-5 while holding the Cornhuskers scoreless for more than an eight-minute stretch.
Nebraska rallied then and outscored Tech 18-9 in the final 7:45 in the half.
"I about traded my team in those last five minutes of the first half," Knight told the crowd after the game. "But when everything was said and done and we got going, I wouldn't trade this team for any team I've ever coached."
Tech built its largest lead of the game, 58-32, with 10:01 remaining.
John Turek and Brennon Clemmons scored 10 points each for Nebraska.