For the first time this season, the Red Raiders headed into the locker room at halftime in an unfamiliar spot – trailing an opponent inside the United Spirit Arena.
In the end though, the Red Raiders were able to prevail and overcome a 33-30 deficit at the half to eventually win 84-75, making interim head coach Chris Walker only the second coach in program history to start his tenure a perfect 4-0.
"We were down, I think it was like 11-1, that hasn't happened to this team before, but yet they fought through it," Walker said. "They were down at half time, that hasn't happened to this team before, with seven new players, yet they found a way to come out."
And what were the magic words spoken at half time that turned the team around?
Junior Jamal Williams, who was one of four Red Raiders to break into double-digits going for 12 points on a 4-for-7 night from the field, said Walker had a message for the team in the locker room.
"We were going to face this," he said. "I'm glad it happened, and we had to come together to get through adversity. He just told us, once we came together success will come."
A key part once again for the Red Raiders that helped bring the team together was junior Jaye Crockett coming off the bench again and once again "providing a spark".
For the third-straight game, Crockett finished with double-digits in points, accumulating 20, and his second game out of that three-game stretch to eclipse the 20-point mark.
Unlike their other most recent contests, where Tech was winning by 35 against Grambling State and 28 against Omaha, respectively, Crockett said this game was a good test for the team.
"The first couple games we have been going to the half with the lead," Crockett said. "This game we went in struggling, I think we were down about 3, so we just knew we had to come out hard the second half. It was a good test, especially for this weekend coming up, we've got a top ten team coming in, so it was a great test for that."
Tech finished the first half just shooting 36.1 percent from the field, but then came back in the second half and began getting the shots to drop, hitting 57.6 percent of its shots against Jackson State (0-3).
Overall the Red Raiders finished shooting just 46.4 percent from the field, which is the lowest finish for Tech in a game since shooting 45.5 percent against Omaha.
With a low percentage of shots going down during this game, yet still being able to pull out a win was bitter sweet for the team, as Walker puts it as an "ugly win."
"An ugly win, we'll take it. We took an ugly win," said Walker. "We've been beating teams by thirty points—that's not going to happen every night. You know, you guys saw what happened at Poly last night, you see what happened in Waco. This could have very easily been a different outcome, but our guys dug in, and I preach about playing hard and playing more together than the other team. We came together, our bench, our activity, our guy's enthusiasm changed, our energy changed, we got some stops, and that is Texas Tech Basketball—not the threes falling."
Coach Walker was referring to the devastating loss for UCLA to Cal Poly basketball on Sunday—the highest-ranking team that has ever been beaten by the Mustangs. Walker also made reference to the Baylor basketball game, where Charleston beat the 24 ranked Baylor 63-59, a upset where there were seventeen turnovers in the Cougar's favor.
Now Tech will set its sights on its own top-ranked opponent as No. 9 Arizona comes into the United Spirit Arena on Saturday as the first ranked opponent for the Red Raiders in nonconference play since December 3, 2009 when Tech took on then-No. 12 Washington and upset the Huskies in overtime 99-92.
It will be a great atmosphere, Walker said, and his squad has a few days to get ready and they just have to focus on themselves and not Arizona.
"It's going to be a Big 12 game and we're going to have a Big 12 fan atmosphere there and we're excited. But at the end of the day it's about Texas Tech, it's not about Arizona," he said. "It doesn't matter who the next game or the next team is, the next game is always the biggest game on our schedule and we're looking forward to that. Our guys are excited and we're going to be ready to go and we're going to play the same way, Texas Tech basketball. We're going to press them, we're going to get up in them and we're going to play harder and more together. It's about Texas Tech basketball versus Arizona basketball.
"We've got three days to work on them and we're going to be ready to go."