Texas Tech Basketball Hosts Biggest Home Game In Program History

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 13: The Texas Tech Red Raiders fans rush the court after the Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers 72-71 on January 13, 2018 at United Supermarket Arena in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 13: The Texas Tech Red Raiders fans rush the court after the Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers 72-71 on January 13, 2018 at United Supermarket Arena in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) /

The Texas Tech basketball team will have the eyes of the nation on it today as the Red Raiders take on the Kansas Jayhawks with ESPN College Gameday in town and first place in the Big 12 on the line.

Back when the Big 12 coaches picked the Texas Tech basketball team to finish 7th in the Big 12 preseason poll, no one would have imagined that today’s home game against Kansas would be the spectacle that it has become.  In fact, the showdown today is the biggest regular season game in Texas Tech basketball history.

Tech and Kansas sit atop the Big 12 standings with Kansas holding a one-game lead.  However, Tech has beaten the Jayhawks once this season and is the only Power 5 team to be undefeated at home this year so the eyes of the nation are on Lubbock like never before.

Previously, the most attention the Texas Tech basketball program has garnered was in 2006-07.  Then Red Raider head coach Bob Knight was the center of the sporting world as he attempted to break the NCAA record for wins by a head coach.

That year, Lubbock was swarmed with media in town to capture the historic win.  Tech lost to UNLV on December 28th, 2006 forcing most of the national media members to stay in town until New Years Day of 2007 when the Red Raiders knocked of New Mexico for Kinght’s monumental achievement.

But that attention pales in comparison to the hoopla and excitement surrounding today’s game.  Spearheading the hype is the first ever trip to Lubbock by ESPN’s basketball version of College Gameday.  The studio show arrived in style on Thursday and has been taking over campus since.

And right away,  ESPN’s on-air personalities began showing up all over campus.

ESPN’s Maria Taylor joined Texas Tech freshman Malik Ondigo to tape a version of his feature “Malik’s Minute”.  Ondigo did a great job interviewing the ESPN hostess and appears to be on his way to a broadcasting future when his playing days are over.

Another member of the Gameday crewformer Duke point guard Jay Williams was at the student recreation center on Friday to challenge students in a game of one-on-one.  Needless to say, the former all-American and NBA lottery pick had an easy time with the Red Raider students.  Fans will get to see just how badly he abused his challengers during Saturday’s broadcast.

Williams then met with the media to explain why he has enjoyed being in Lubbock for the first time.

"“I’m actually so damn excited to be here because we haven’t been here before” he said.  “To be frank with you…some places are a little bit spoiled.”He went on to talk about why the opportunity to host the show is show huge for Texas Tech.  “First off, it’s a celebration of the program.  Essentially, this is a Texas Tech infomercial.”"

Speaking of selling the program, the Red Raiders happen to be hosting two huge 2018 basketball recruits.  Four-star guard Kevin McCullar of San Antonio and 4-star forward Khavon Moore from Georgia will both be on campus this weekend.

McCullar is the no. 122 player in the nation and has offers from Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Houston in addition to Texas Tech.  Moore is even more highly coveted.  The no. 51 ranked player in the country is recovering from a broken leg but still has offers from Ohio State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, Florida, UCONN, UCLA and Texas A&M among others.

Moore is believed to have narrowed his choice down to Texas Tech and Oklahoma so the hope is that the atmosphere of this weekend’s game can help ensure that the Red Raiders have him in the fold next year.  If not, he could be a thorn in Tech’s side for the next four years.

And if the presence of Gameday and nationally prominent recruits wasn’t enough to let the nation know just how huge this game is, the students are sending their own message.  A significant number of students camped out on the rugby fields next to the arena to ensure they are first in line this afternoon.  The overnight low dropped into the 30’s on the South Plains but that didn’t deter the students.

Students have not camped out for a Texas Tech basketball game in at least a decade, if ever.  And coach Chris Beard and the team made sure to let them know how much they appreciated them.

It even appears that some Texas Tech football legends have made their way to town to be a part of the excitement.  New England Patriot and Texas Tech legend Danny Amendola stopped by to see his friend Kliff Kingsbury and is ready for the showdown.

He will be joined by other football legends, Patrick Mahomes, Jakeen Grant, Jace Amaro and Davis Webb.

Needless to say, today’s game is like nothing the Texas Tech basketball program has ever seen. It is a testament to what Beard and his players have done this season and it is exciting to see Lubbock get behind Texas Tech basketball just four years removed from perhaps the darkest period the program had ever seen.

Will Rogers and Soapsuds are ready.  The students are ready.  The team is ready.  Lubbock is ready.  Bring it!