FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -Now Texas Tech can finally savor a little bit what has already been accomplished - its best start in eight decades and being ranked for the first time in five seasons.
After a big comeback for an 80-70 victory at TCU.
The No. 23 Red Raiders, now with a 10-day gap between games, looked as if they might not get a chance to enjoy the way they got started Tuesday night. They trailed by 10 only 4 minutes into the game and were still down 14 before halftime, a day after getting into the AP poll for the first time since the end of the 2004-05 season.
``They earned being ranked, and the whole deal was let's don't be ranked for two days. Let's see if we can prolong it, see how far we can move up,' coach Pat Knight said.
``He got into us, ripped into us a little bit, told us to play defense,' said John Roberson, who scored eight of his 21 points in the game-turning run. ``He said, what do you want to do those (10) days, practice all day or have a little time off.'
The Red Raiders (9-0) didn't lead until Theron Jenkins made a free throw with 16:09 left to break a 44-all tie. He was intentionally fouled at midcourt after stealing a pass and the whistle nullified his breakaway slam dunk.
The Red Raiders then maintained possession because of the intentional foul, and Roberson hit a 3-pointer. After a TCU miss, Brad Reese hit to make it 50-44, culminating the 23-3 run that wiped out their 14-point deficit.
Roberson also had a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half, when Tech scored the final nine points to cut the halftime deficit to 41-36.
``That's what really helped the momentum swing in our favor,' said Mike Singletary, who added 17 points.
``That was huge,' said Knight, coaching a ranked team for the first time since succeeding father Bobby in February 2008. ``If we would have allowed them to get a run and hit some more shots, it would have been hard for our guys to come back.'
Singletary had 17 points and David Tairu 14 for the Red Raiders, who have their best start since winning 12 in a row to start the 1929-30 season. D'wayln Roberts had nine points and 19 rebounds.
TCU (5-4) hosted a ranked non-conference opponent for only the second time in 48-year-old Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, having lost to then-No. 1 Kansas 85-66 six years ago. This was a chance to get a big victory for second-year coach Jim Christian.
Zvonko Buljan had 24 points and 10 rebounds for TCU, hitting a 3-pointer to put the Frogs ahead on their first shot and adding a dunk on his next one.
By the first media timeout 4:01 into the game, which came after Tairu traveled for Tech's fourth turnover, TCU already led 14-4. Less than two minutes after that, the Frogs stretched it to 18-5 on Kevin Butler's shot.
But the Frogs went cold after Ronnie Moss stole a pass that led to a layup by Nikola Cerina and made it 41-27 with 2:06 left in the first half. Roberts' two free throws 10 seconds later started the key Tech run that extended after halftime.
``It's tough because we came out, were excited to play and played well in the beginning,' Christian said. ``It really came down to toughness plays. They were getting key loose balls, key offensive rebounds. ... This is one that's an opportunity we all know we had a chance at.'
With Tech playing its only game in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this season, there were as many red-clad fans cheering for the visitors as there were home folks.
TCU managed to regain the lead only once after Tech went ahead. After Butler's layup put the Frogs up 55-54 midway through the second half, Tech went right back ahead - and stayed - on Roberson's reverse layup. Tairu then made a spin move on the baseline for an easy jumper.
``We have to find a way to do it for 40 minutes,' Christian said. ``We haven't been able to do it yet.'
The Associated Press News Service
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