In Tubby Smith’s first year in Lubbock, the Texas Tech basketball team scored a huge upset victory over Oklahoma State but that triumph was overshadowed by the game’s controversial ending.
We all remember the time that Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart shoved Texas Tech basketball fan Jeff Orr. But what we likely have forgotten because of that controversy is how fantastic of a game the Red Raiders’ 65-61 upset of the No. 19 Cowboys was.
The year was 2014 and we were in the first season of the Tubby Smith era. Taking over a program that had averaged just 10.6 wins per year over the three previous seasons, the long-time head coach faced perhaps his greatest rebuilding job ever.
Right away, he began to make strides towards getting the program back to respectability. Already that season, Smith’s team had knocked off No. 12 Baylor, and Tech entered the home showdown with OSU at a respectable 11-11 overall.
Still. few gave the Red Raiders a shot to take down the Cowboys. After all, OSU had entered the year as one of the favorites to challenge Kansas’ reign of terror atop the conference.
But after getting off to a 16-3 start, the boys from Stillwater hit the skids in a huge way thanks to injuries, suspensions, and a myriad of on-court issues. Heading into this contest, they had lost three-straight games and after falling in Lubbock, they would drop three more.
Regardless, they were the heavy favorites because of their star power, which was centered around Smart, who would be drafted No. 6 overall in that summer’s NBA Draft. They also featured forward Le’Bryan Nash, who averaged 14.6 points per game over his career before having a cup of coffee in the NBA. That year, as a senior, he put up 17.2 points per contest while playing second fiddle to Smart.
However, the Red Raiders were not intimidated. And in yet another Big 12 game that devolved into a rock fight, the underdogs took the fight to the Cowboys early.
Behind a starting lineup of Jaye Crockett, Jordan Tolbert, Dejan Kravic, Robert Turner, and Toddrick Gotcher, the home team jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the first seven minutes of action. And at the half, Tech led 29-27.
In the second half, the teams would trade blows and the lead for most of the 20 minutes on the clock. In fact, the game was tied nine times and the lead changed hands 10 times in the second half alone.
It was in the final minute when Tech made the plays needed to secure the game. First, Crockett would hit the game-winning jumper with 41 seconds to play to put Tech up 63-61.
Then, on the ensuing OSU possession, Robert Turner would come up with a steal to seal the game. That turnover led to a fastbreak that would end with a foul on Smart who would fall into the first row of fans where he would shove Orr. (We will take a look at that controversy and how Orr was so unfortunately wronged in a moment.)
First, though, let’s go inside this game to see how the Red Raiders pulled off the upset. And we will begin with something that would prove to be a precursor to the Chris Beard era.