New Era Under Chris Walker Begins Friday At 8 p.m.
November 8, 2012
LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech kicks off the 2012-13 basketball season against Prairie View A&M on Friday night at 8 p.m. at the United Spirit Arena under first-year head coach Chris Walker.
Walker becomes the 15th head coach in Texas Tech history. The previous 14 head coaches have gone 7-7 in their program debut. Texas Tech’s last three head coachse – Bob Knight (2001-08). Pat Knight (2008-11) and Billy Gillispie (2011-12) – each won their Lubbock debut.
The Red Raiders are 12-1 in season openers since the United Spirit Arena in 1999. Texas Tech has won 12 straight, since dropping the 1999-00 season opener to Indiana.
Last season, Texas Tech topped Troy, 90-85, in the season opener in front of a USA crowd of 10,088. It was the 72nd largest crowd in United Spirit Arena history for the Red Raiders and the largest crowd for a season opener since Nov. 19, 2004, when 10,296 saw the Red Raiders top UNC-Ashville, 119-55.
Overall, Texas Tech is in the midst of starting its 88th season of college basketball. Since the school opened its doors in 1925, the Red Raiders have gone 60-27 (69.0 percent) in season openers and 63-24 (72.4 percent) in home openers.
This will mark the third time that the Red Raiders have opened the season against Prairie View A&M. Tech topped the Panthers, 111-84, to open the 1995-96 and then beat Prairie View, 82-53, to kick off the 2000-01 season.
In all, Texas Tech has squared off with Prairie View A&M five times, coming out victorious in all previous five meetings. The Red Raiders have won the five contests by an average score of 94-64.
LAST MEETING: PRAIRIE VIEW A&M
The Red Raiders trailed the Panthers 11-9 with 12:55 remaining in the first half before going on a 19-3 scoring run.
Gregory Burks ended a six-minute scoring drought for Prairie View (0-2) with a 3-pointer that cut the gap to 23-14, but Jamal Brown responded with a 3-point basket, and Mikey Marshall added three points as Texas Tech to a 29-14 lead.
Texas Tech (1-0) led 37-21 at halftime. They pushed the lead to 50-29 early in the second half on a layup by Andy Ellis.
The Panthers were led by Xavier Lee’s 21 points. Burks had 17.
The Panthers have been tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the SWAC this season and look to make their first appearance in the NCAA Championships since 1998.
Prairie View A&M returns its top seven scorers from last season, which accounts for 79.9 percent of the Panthers’ offense. They are led by Jourdan DeMunick (10.1 points and 4.3 rebounds), Louis Munks (9.6 points and 2.7 rebounds) and Ryan Gesiakowski (9.5 points and 2.4 rebounds.
Texas Tech is the first of five opponents that the Panthers will face from the Big Six conferences. Prairie View will also face Texas A&M, TCU, UCLA and California.
Four of the last six Red Raider head coaches have made the jump from Texas Tech assistant coach to head coach. Walker joins Pat Knight, James Dickey and Gerald Myers to make the jump to head coach.
Panther assistant coach Randy Washington is a 1986 graduate of Texas Tech University. He was a former student-athlete for the Red Raiders, where he competed for Corky Oglesby on the track and field team. He competed in the pole vault. Prior to his arrival at Tech, he was on the track and field team at South Plains College.
Texas Tech redshirt freshmen Toddrick Gotcher will be reunited with former high school teammate Babajidne Aina, who is a freshman guard on the Panther roster.
Panther Carl Blair, who will sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, has faced Texas Tech four times as a member of the Oklahoma Sooners. Blair averaged 4.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists against Texas Tech.
Texas Tech guard Jamal Williams, Jr. is from Brooklyn (NY) Pacific High School, while Prairie View guard Rasi Jenkins is from Brooklyn (NY) Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School.
Texas Tech forward Kader Tapsoba is from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa, while Prairie View’s Mayol Riathin is from Western Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan, Africa. The two areas of Africa are approximately 1,800 miles apart.
These three combined to produce 48.2 percent of the offense for the Red Raiders last season.
Also returning are redshirt freshman Toddrick Gotcher (7.3 points), Luke Adams (4.2 points) and Clark Lammert (3.0 points), give the Red Raiders 60 percent of its offense from last season.
Prior to his injury, Gotcher was averaging 7.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He played in just nine games last season, including eight starts, averaging 29.9 minutes per game.
Tolbert averaged 11.5 points per game as a freshman, to go along with 5.7 rebounds per game. He scored in double figures 16 times last season and recorded a pair of double-doubles.
He ranked in the top 15 in scoring and rebounding in the Big 12 and earned the Big 12 Conference Player of the Week honor just after Christmas.
Tolbert twice netted 27 points twice last season against TCU and Cal State-Bakersfield. Those two outputs rank in the top five for a freshman at Texas Tech.
In all, he netted 20 points five times last season. He ranks in the top five for Texas Tech freshman in scoring average, total points, rebounding and field goal percentage.
After a two-year career at Midland College, Nurse transferred to Texas Tech last season, where he played in 30 games and earning 24 starts.
In his Red Raider debut, he netted 29 points against Troy in last year’s season opener. Nurse finished second on the squad in scoring (8.9 points).
Nurse is one of the nation’s best free throw shooters in the nation. He finished the year with a 90.4 percent free throw shooting average and only missed six free throws all year. At one point, he had made 27 straight. For six weeks, he led the nation in free throw percentage.
Thursday also marked the debut of first-year head coach Chris Walker, who saw his Red Raiders jump out to a 54-26 halftime lead.
Kravic, who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, netted 16 points and pulled down six rebounds, while Trency Jackson chipped in 13 points, Dusty Hannahs had 12 and Daylen Robinson added 10.
Texas Tech jumped out to a 23-6 lead with 10:56 to play in the first and increased the margin to 54-26 going into the break thanks in large part to the Red Raiders’ ability to connect on 64.5 percent from the field.
The shooting went somewhat cold in the second half, as Texas Tech connected on just 14 of 38 shots from the first (36.8 percent).
In all, 12 of the 13 Red Raiders scored on the night and eight different players netted at least five points on the night for a balanced scoring attack.