Texas falls to Texas Tech 77-64 in bitter reunion

Nick Pannes, Sports Reporter

Texas Tech head coach Mark Adams had to take a minute to congratulate the fans as he began his postgame press conference.

“They were maybe better than our players,” Adams said. “It was such an awesome environment. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like that.”

It isn’t uncommon for a coach to toss up an alley-oop to the public relations side of the program. But for Tuesday’s game, the impact of the crowd in United Supermarkets Arena was significant and undeniable.

A sellout crowd of over 15,000 fans consistently hit over 100 decibels of cheering and jeering from the moment the players entered the stadium. Their energy was tireless and had Texas players stumbling to a slow start in the first half.

After an opening 3-pointer from senior guard Courtney Ramey gave the Longhorns a 3-2 lead — their only lead of the night —Texas struggled to score for the next eight minutes. A series of high-effort plays including offensive rebounds and blocks from Texas Tech sent the crowd berserk, lighting a fire underneath their team.

Texas Tech players like senior forward Marcus Santos-Silva reveled in the atmosphere. Santos-Silva finished the first half with six points, three offensive rebounds and two blocks. A decent statline in itself, Santos-Silva’s impact on the game’s momentum was arguably his most important contribution.

“He made some great plays early in the game,” Adams said. “Those are just extra effort, hustle plays, and that’s what he does so well. Nobody’s more excited about winning, (especially) in this game.”

Texas head coach Chris Beard also praised Santos-Silva and the Texas Tech squad after the game.

“His heart was on his sleeve tonight,” Beard said. “I had the pleasure of coaching Santos-Silva (at Texas Tech). He had a great game.”

Beard compared Santos-Silva’s playstyle with Texas senior forward Christian Bishop, who he described as a skilled player who brings intangibles such as competitiveness and grit to his team.

Bishop had a solid game in his own right, recording 11 points, four offensive rebounds and a team-high eight total rebounds. And he wasn’t the only Texas player to finish with a decent statline.

Ramey finished the game with 12 points and 4-10 shooting from three, tacking on a rare block as well. Senior guard Marcus Carr tallied 18 points on 5-12 shooting, three assists and had no turnovers as the primary ball-handler, a pointed improvement for a Texas team that has struggled with turnovers in recent weeks.

Despite these individual performances, Texas couldn’t get their players to “sing in tune and on time,” as Beard says. All of Ramey’s 12 points came in the first half and Bishop was benched for a chunk of the second half after getting into foul trouble with less than seven minutes remaining.

Rivalry games between Texas Tech and Texas are always heated, but the controversy surrounding Beard’s decision to leave the Red Raiders for the Longhorns added significant pressure to the game.

In the postgame press conference, Beard insisted the game wasn’t about him. But the personal significance of this game was not lost on his players.

“(I wanted to win this game) a lot,” Carr said. “I know how much Coach (Beard) supports me and has my back and how much he fights for us every day. He works harder than we do. … He’s definitely the hardest working coach I’ve ever had.”