Texas Tech scored a signature victory in the first week of the Big 12 basketball season, knocking off Kansas 85-73 on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
The No. 18 Red Raiders are riding high, but don’t expect a letdown when they face Kansas State on Saturday.
“We have a lot of issues trying to compete in this league with all these players and coaches, but being over-confident is not one of them,” Tech coach Chris Beard said Thursday on the Big 12 teleconference. “We’re the same program that’s only been to one NCAA Tournament in the last decade and last year didn’t play in the postseason. We have a lot of guys who understand where we came from and where we’re trying to get.
“I worry about a lot of things. At the top of that list is how good a coach Bruce Weber is. They have veteran players, they were an NCAA Tournament team last year, but I really don’t worry about our guys not being ready to play. We’ll be ready to play.”
A sell-out crowd is expected at United Supermarkets Arena (15,098) when the Wildcats (11-3, 1-1 Big 12) and Raiders (13-1, 2-0) play at 3 p.m. in Lubbock, Texas.
“With social media, highlight videos and everyone telling them how great they are and all that stuff, it makes a difference in their mental approach,” Weber said. “We can’t worry about that, we just have to worry about ourselves and be hungry to play.
“They are a very good team and won on the road in one of the toughest environments in the country, and not just won the game but controlled the game from start to finish.”
Excitement was building in Lubbock with the fast start, then beating KU took it to another level.
“Not just with the Kansas win, we felt we got some momentum throughout the season,” said Beard, who is in his second season at Tech. “It started this summer for a lot of our fans buying season tickets and we’ve had some great crowds at home. I feel like we’re building a program and we’ve got a little momentum and things are going in the right direction.
“The Kansas game, that game is big for everybody because of what Kansas has done. It doesn’t matter what kind of season you’re having, if you go there you have an opportunity to make everybody happy. We kind of did our part with a good team going in there and we did our part to make it a good game, but I would have said that even if we wouldn’t have won the game. We played hard and we played together and we gave ourselves a chance. The credit for those being such noticeable games is on Kansas until schools like us make it a more fair game. It was great to get a win against a team we really respect.”
Beard, a Tech assistant for 10 years under Bob Knight and Pat Knight, returned to guide the Raiders to an 18-14 record last season (6-12 Big 12) after taking over for Tubby Smith. He is pleased with the start but cautions against too much exuberance.
“We really haven’t done anything, yet,” he said. “We were sitting here last year in this league in a good position with a couple of great wins against top 25 teams. We were 2-2 and then we get beat at home, so to me this race doesn’t really start until February. We’re all just jockeying for position right now. We’re pleased to have a couple of wins on the board, but we understand it’s a long, long season and we really haven’t done anything, yet.”
The Wildcats are coming off 77-69 loss to No. 6 West Virginia on Monday, unable to back up their 16-point road win at Iowa State.
“There was a hangover,” Weber said of Wednesday’s practice following a day off. “There was a cloud in the gym and we kept saying, ‘It’s over.’ We brought them back (Thursday) morning and they seemed to have a little energy and life. I told them we had a pity party and it’s over, now let’s move on. In the Big 12, you can’t worry about what happened because you have to prepare for the next game.”
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.