The Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball team represents Texas Tech basketball University on the basketball court. Competing in NCAA Division I, the team has been a charter member of the Big 12 Conference since its inception in 1996. Before that, Texas Tech basketball participated in the Border Conference and the Southwest Conference. The team’s establishment dates back to 1925, and over the years, they have secured 13 regular season conference championships and made 19 appearances in the NCAA tournament as of the 2021-22 season.
Since 1999, the Red Raiders have called the United Supermarkets Arena on the university’s Lubbock, Texas campus their home court.
Texas Tech Basketball
Texas Tech’s basketball program was inaugurated in the same year the university opened its doors in 1925. The first game resulted in a 37–25 loss to Daniel Baker College. After two more losses, the team finally celebrated their inaugural victory with a 35–21 win against Sul Ross University.
The initial coach, Grady Higginbotham, led the team for two seasons, accumulating a 14–18 record. Until Pat Knight’s tenure, Higginbotham remained the sole Tech basketball coach to finish with an overall losing record (.438) during his time. Following Higginbotham’s departure, Victor Payne guided the Matadors (as the team was known until 1936) from 1927 to 1930, finishing with a record of 32 wins and 20 losses. W. L. Golightly coached for only one season, achieving an 11–9 record.
Dell Morgan took the helm from 1931 to 1934, amassing 42 wins and 29 losses. He was succeeded by Virgil Ballard. Although Ballard’s coaching tenure lasted only a single season, the team achieved a significant milestone under his guidance – their 100th victory, a narrow one-point win against House of David. Ballard concluded his time with a 15–9 record.
Berl Huffman held the position of head basketball coach at Texas Tech basketball twice—first from 1935 to 1942, and then again from 1946 to 1947. Over the course of his eight seasons, he amassed a commendable record of 121–67. Polk Robison is the only other individual to have served two separate stints as the head basketball coach at the university. Following Huffman’s departure in 1942, Robison assumed the role.
Furthermore, when Huffman departed for the second time in 1947, it was once again Robison who stepped in, this time remaining in the position until 1961. Robison’s tenure, spanning 18 seasons, ranks as the second-longest among any Red Raiders basketball coach, trailing only Gerald Myers. His legacy includes 254 wins, 195 losses, and guiding the team to its initial two NCAA tournaments in school history.
Subsequently, Gene Gibson succeeded Robison. In his own eight seasons, Gibson achieved the second-best conference record in Texas Tech’s history and led the Raiders to a Southwest Conference Championship in 1962. Bob Bass directed the program to a 22–15 record over a season-and-a-half before resuming his responsibilities in professional basketball coaching.
The period from 1971 to 2001 was marked by Gerald Myers’ tenure as the coach of the Red Raiders. He took over mid-year during the 1970/71 season and remained in the position until 1991. His extended stay stands as the lengthiest among any head basketball coach at Tech, punctuated by significant milestones such as victories #600 (TCU), #700 (SMU), #800 (at SMU), and #900 (Texas A&M).
With a Texas Tech basketball career record of 326–261, Myers boasts more wins with the Red Raiders than any other men’s basketball coach in school history. Myers guided Tech to 16 winning seasons, clinched two Southwest Conference championships, secured three SWC tournament titles, and earned four NCAA tournament berths. He also served as the school’s athletic director from 1996 to 2011.
James Dickey succeeded Myers as head coach before the 1991/92 season and continued in this role until his dismissal at the conclusion of the 2000/01 season. Over his decade-long tenure, Dickey accumulated a 166–124 win-loss record (164–123 with vacated games excluded). Under Dickey’s leadership, the program achieved its 1,000th victory—a 71–62 triumph at UALR.
Dickey assumed leadership of a Texas Tech basketball program that had posted a combined record of 13–45 during Myers’ final two years. In his first year as head coach, he led the team to a winning season and a fifth-place finish in Southwest Conference play, despite being projected to finish last in the conference. In his second year, the Red Raiders secured the Southwest Conference tournament championship, their fourth title, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The 1994/95 season concluded with a 20–10 record, shared the SWC regular season championship with Texas Tech basketball, and a berth in the 1995 National Invitation Tournament. In the SWC’s last season, Dickey’s 1995–96 Red Raiders enjoyed a highly successful run, going 30–2 overall and undefeated in conference play. They clinched both the SWC regular season championship and the conference tournament title, advanced to the “Sweet Sixteen” in the NCAA Tournament, and achieved rankings of #8 in the AP poll and #10 in the Coaches’ Poll.
Transitioning to the Big 12 in the 1996/97 season, the Raiders maintained their momentum with a solid 19–9 performance. However, Dickey’s tenure faced a significant setback during the inaugural Big 12 basketball tournament. It was revealed during the first-round game that two players had participated throughout the season while academically ineligible. Texas Tech basketball subsequently withdrew from postseason consideration and forfeited its entire conference schedule.
An ensuing investigation unveiled extensive violations dating back to 1990 in men’s basketball and nine other sports. Consequently, the NCAA nullified Tech’s two NCAA tournament wins in 1996 and imposed a penalty of nine scholarships over four years. Dickey struggled to recover from the scholarship losses, resulting in four consecutive losing seasons and only 18 victories in Big 12 play. His tenure concluded after the 2000/01 season, which saw his team achieve a 9–19 overall record.
Bob Knight assumed the role of head coach for the Texas Tech basketball men’s team from 2001 to 2008. Appointed in March 2001 to replace James Dickey, Knight swiftly revitalized the program, which had struggled to secure NCAA tournament bids and winning records since 1996. During his tenure, Knight guided the Red Raiders to three NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT appearance within his initial four years, notably reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 2005.
The 2005/06 season saw Texas Tech basketball finish with a 15–17 overall record, marking the only instance where Knight completed a full season at Tech with a losing record and fewer than 21 wins. This period also coincided with the filming of the ESPN reality TV show “Knight School,” centered on Knight and the Red Raiders.
Despite the 2005/06 setback, the Red Raiders rebounded in 2006/07, achieving a 21–13 record and another NCAA Tournament bid, where they were defeated by Boston College in the first round. Knight’s teams secured impressive victories against two top 10-ranked teams in consecutive weeks during 2006 and 2007.
In his initial six years, the Red Raiders secured a total of 126 wins, averaging 21 wins per season. On January 1, 2007, Texas Tech basketball victory over New Mexico marked Knight’s 880th career triumph, making him the all-time winningest coach in men’s college basketball history.
Knight’s 900th career victory occurred on January 16, 2008, with a win against the ninth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies, ending with a score of 68–53. Knight would earn two more victories against Missouri and Oklahoma State before announcing his retirement on February 4, 2008. At that point, his 2007–08 team held a mid-season record of 12–8. His son, Pat Knight, who had been the designated head coach since 2005, was named his successor. Bob Knight’s final record at Texas Tech was 138 wins and 82 losses.
Pat Knight Era: 2008–2011
After assuming the head coaching position midseason, Pat Knight’s first two games resulted in road defeats. However, his first coaching victory came at home with an upset win over #18 Kansas State. The Red Raiders defeated top conference teams, including #5 Texas, under his guidance. The 2008/09 season saw a record-setting high-scoring game against Division II opponent East Central.
In 2011, Texas Tech basketball terminated Knight’s position as head coach. His departure left him with a record of 50–61, becoming the second coach in the school’s history to exit with more losses than wins.
Billy Gillispie Era: 2011–2012
Billy Gillispie assumed the head coaching role in 2011 but resigned after just one season amidst a school investigation into his treatment of players.
Tubby Smith Era: 2013–2016
Tubby Smith took over as head coach in 2013, bringing progress to the team. The Red Raiders achieved their first victory over a top-25 team in several years and earned a share of the Big 12 regular season title. Under Smith’s leadership, Texas Tech returned to the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Elite Eight in the 2015–2016 season.
Chris Beard Era: 2016–2021
Chris Beard, who was hired in 2016, led Texas Tech to historic achievements, including their first-ever Final Four appearance in 2018 and a national championship game berth in 2019. Beard left in 2021 to coach the University of Texas.
Mark Adams Era: 2021–2023
Mark Adams, a Texas Tech alumnus and former assistant coach, took over in 2021. Under Adams, the team saw success before his resignation in 2023 amidst controversy.
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