Tech Takes #1 Louisville Down

Never lose your chip.

Jim Rome
December 11, 2019 - 11:54 am
Texas Tech

USA Today

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Chris Mack has turned Louisville basketball around in a hurry. They weren’t supposed to be this good this quickly. But they are this good. And it has been this quick. They’re the number one team in the country. They can beat you in multiple ways. And then they ran into a team from Lubbock last night in Madison Square Garden.

Texas Tech 70
Louisville 57

If you want to talk about a team that isn’t supposed to be this good and isn’t supposed to be where they are, nobody fits that better than Texas Tech. Forget being this good, this quick, Texas Tech isn’t supposed to be this good, period.

They weren’t supposed to win the Big 12 last year. They weren’t supposed to go to the Final Four last year. And they sure as hell weren’t supposed to lose four of their top five scorers off last year’s team and then come back this year to beat the number one team in the country in Madison Square Garden.

But they did just that.

Because that is what Chris Beard does? Whatever you expect him to do, he’ll do it better. You think he can’t get to a Final Four at Texas Tech? He will. You think he won’t go into Madison Square Garden and turn in a showing so good that security has to prevent a court-storming? He will.

And you think he won’t dance after a W like that? He will.

Tech turned that locker room into a mosh pit and they turned the Louisville game into a street fight. A street fight for street dogs.

The permanent residents of the Garden, the New York Knicks, could do a lot worse than studying that game film and finding that Texas Tech magic. Because I can’t remember the last time a Knicks team battled and scrapped and hustled the way the Red Raiders did.

Don’t get this twisted. This isn’t about another number one team going down. And don’t start getting all worked up about oh, what a topsy-turvy season this is.

It may be that, but last night wasn’t about Louisville losing. It was about Texas Tech winning. And it was about Texas Tech announcing they are back. They aren’t going away. They haven’t lost their chip. I’ll get back to that in a second, but they are still Texas Tech. They are still 4 is to 1. They are still looking to wreck you, even if they hadn’t played their best before last night.

Because let’s be honest, Tech had not really looked like Tech until last night, especially on defense. They were banged up and missing pieces. But they showed up last night.

And nobody was bigger than Avery Benson, the shaggy-haired former walk-on, coming off the bench for ten points and a pair of huge blocks in the first half. If you didn’t know about him before, now you do. Because as Beard said: “Avery is the backbone of our culture,. He’s in his third year at Texas Tech. He has an Elite Eight ring, a Final Four ring and a Big 12 championship ring, and that’s not happenstance. He’s a big part of that. He’s a tough guy who knows his role, plays his role. He’s unselfish and tough. But let the story read, he’s a good player. He earned the right to play in games like this.’’

And he didn’t just play in a game like that, he changed a game like that. He came into last night with three career blocks, and ended the first half with two more.

As Chris Clarke said after the game: "Avery's a big-time player, he's a leader. I didn't really know too much about him before I got here, but when I did [transfer from Virginia Tech], they told me Avery was the toughest player. I've been expecting that since day one."

If you’re the toughest player on the toughest team, that is saying something. And that toughness showed up. So did the defense. They held Louisville without a bucket for nearly 10 minutes in the first half and forced 13 turnovers in the second half.

Never lose your chip. That’s the Chris Beard mentality.

And no matter the success that they had last year, that chip is still firmly planted on their shoulders. They aren’t pet store dogs, they’re still street dogs. They aren’t blue bloods and they don’t want to be. They want to be themselves and last night, against the best team in the country, they were themselves and they dominated.

I know I don’t have to tell you this, but never lose your chip, Coach. Never lose your chip.