TECH CATCHES CHARLOTTE IN ITS WEB
This was all about tempo. Texas Tech's patience and defense proved superior to Charlotte's run-and-gun attack that included a couple of goofy three-pointers from somewhere near the Skyway.
The Red Raiders built a 14-point halftime lead and rebuffed every Charlotte run to hold off the 49ers, 76-73, in Thursday's opener of the East Rutherford regional in HSBC Arena.
Texas Tech (23-10) won its first NCAA Tournament game since 1996 and made coach Bob Knight a winner for the first time since 1999.
Five times in his last seven appearances, Knight had been a first-round loser in the NCAAs.
That included a loss to Southern Illinois in 2002, his first year at Tech, and the 77-57 blowout he suffered against Pepperdine here in 2000 in his final game at Indiana.
"I'm so glad that the outcome of this replaces the outcome of the last game I coached in Buffalo," Knight said.
Tech, the No. 8 seed, will meet No. 1 Saint Joseph's in Saturday night's second round. Charlotte, the No. 9 seed, finished 21-9.
Until some miscues in the last 25 seconds, which made a 12-point game deceptively close, it was a solid performance by the Red Raiders.
Tech led for the final 37 minutes and was flustered neither by Charlotte's pressure defense nor its three-point shooting.
Senior forward Andre Emmett, the Big 12's all-time scoring leader, paced the Red Raiders with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
"We knew Emmett is a great player and Texas Tech would look for him," said Charlotte forward Eddie Basden. "We felt we contained him most of the game but he hit big shots."
Tech guard Jarrius Jackson had 17 points, swingman Michael Marshall had 15 on 7-of-10 shooting and freshman forward Darryl Dora had the game of his life.
The 6-foot-9 Dora collected 12 points, 10 rebounds and registered six assists -- career highs in the last two categories.
Dora exploded after combining for just three points and five rebounds over the last six games. He was playing largely because Robert Tomaszek, a starter for 26 games who was averaging 7.4 points, was sidelined by a foot injury.
"He stepped up and played real big," Emmett said. "We told him in practice he had to step up and play strong. Coach got on him today before the game and told him to play tough and he did."
While Tech hit 29 of 59 from the field, it held Charlotte to 25 of 58 -- and just 6 of 24 from three-point range. Charlotte long-range specialists Demon Brown and Brendan Plavich combined to hit only 4 of 15 from beyond the arc.
Plavich was just 2 for 5 and could barely get off a shot because he was being hounded by Tech guard Ronald Ross. The Red Raiders were patient on offense and worked well in their halfcourt sets.
The 49ers never ran much well-planned offense and virtually all of their three-pointers were contested.
"We knew they would come out firing and we didn't want them to get too hot," Emmett said. "We played tough on them."
"The game resembled most of the games we lost this year," said Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz, referring to his team's poor shooting, a fixture on nights the 49ers struggled.
Jackson had seven of the points as Tech took over with a 14-0 run late in the first half to grab a 35-20 lead. It was 39-25 at the break, and the Red Raiders were still up by 13 (53-40) with 10 minutes to go.
That's when Charlotte tried to make a move.
A 10-2 run capped by two free throws with 5:47 left from forward Curtis Withers (team-high 17 points) pulled the 49ers within five at 55-50. Texas Tech got the lead back to nine before Charlotte once again cut it to five.
But Dora and Emmett combined for five of the points in a 7-0 run that allowed Tech to overcome 13 Charlotte points in the final 19 seconds.
Two turnovers gave Charlotte extra chances in that span and the 49ers took advantage with a pair of three-pointers and a conventional three-point play.
"Our kids did a really good job of getting points when we had to have points," Knight said. "It gave us enough of a cushion going down to the wire."