Texas Tech on its way up

Monday, January 28th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Considering the way it would boost ticket sales and TV ratings, does anybody want to bet against the NCAA finding a spot for Bob Knight's new team in its tournament field?

And what is it about the numeral 6 that brings out the best in Texas Tech?

Exactly one week after the Red Raiders (15-3, 4-2 Big 12) disposed of then-No. 6 Oklahoma State 94-70, they beat No. 6 Oklahoma 92-79.

It's getting harder to argue that the Red Raiders are anything less than good _ pretty darn good, in fact. Just six games into the Big 12 season, they already have more conference victories than they managed the entire 2000-2001 season.

Even the hard-to-please Knight seemed pleased with a 39-point swing from the loss the Sooners put on him in Norman.

``We had to play a lot better today than we did in Norman to be competitive,'' Knight said. ``We didn't play perfectly, but ... these kids really played well. Really good day for us.''

No. 2 Kansas, in the meantime, showed no sign of letting up. The Jayhawks (17-2, 6-0), led once again by a nearly unstoppable Drew Gooden, dominated Texas A&M (8-12, 2-4) 86-74.

Elsewhere in a full weekend of Big 12 action:

_ No. 18 Missouri tuned up for its Monday night biggie at Kansas with an 86-74 victory over the struggling Kansas State Wildcats.

_ Nebraska dodged Iowa State's desperation shot at the buzzer for an 86-84 overtime victory, shoving the Cyclones (9-12, 1-6) to the bottom of the Big 12 standings.

_ No. 11 Oklahoma State, with a moment of silence at halftime for the 10 victims of the tragic plane crash almost exactly one year earlier, bested Colorado 64-55.

_No. 24 Texas rebounded from its upset loss to Texas A&M the previous game by beating Baylor 69-63.

At Lubbock, the Red Raiders did a terrific job of stopping Oklahoma's transition game, not letting them get points off their defense.

``We played uphill the whole day and it seemed like they were coming downhill,'' said Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson. ``That ain't a fair fight.''

Andre Emmett, who exploded for 32 points on 14-of-18 shooting against Oklahoma State, had 26 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. The Sooners were led by Hollis Price with 27 points.

At Lincoln, Nebraska's John Robinson finished with 18 points and scored the final two points on free throws with 3 seconds left.

Then Iowa State's Marcus Jefferson got open for a 3-pointer, but the shot hit the back of the rim and bounced high and away from the basket.

``The shot Jefferson got scared the life out of me,'' Nebraska coach Barry Collier said. ``We're just ecstatic with the win.''

Missouri (15-5, 5-2) used a 13-0 run in the first half to take control of the Wildcats (7-10, 1-5).

``In the first half, I liked what I saw in terms of how our kids executed on the offensive end,'' said Missouri coach Quin Snyder.

It was the Wildcats' 18th straight loss in Columbia. They've lost all six of their road games this year by an average of 16 points.

``We feel like we're growing and we feel like we're in pain,'' said second-year coach Jim Wooldridge. ``It's not going to be easy to build your team back up in this league.''

At Stillwater, Oklahoma State guard Maurice Baker scored eight of his 16 points in an early second-half run and appeared to be coming back from the injuries that have dogged him of late.

``We finally got Mo on track,'' said coach Eddie Sutton. ``At halftime, I challenged him. I said, ``Mo, we can't win unless you start becoming more aggressive offensively.' He certainly did that.''

He hit back-to-back 3-point shots to fuel a 14-2 run.

``I just had a little talk with myself,'' Baker said. ``I know my team was looking for me, so I just had to pick it up in the second half.''

At Waco, Deginald Erskin scored 15 points, including the final go-ahead basket, as the Longhorns bounced back from their loss to Texas A&M.

``We have a fine margin for error, and that doesn't include getting too far behind on the backboard,'' Baylor coach Dave Bliss said. ``That was a product of Texas' ability.''