Beginning to earn a reputation for being this year’s giant slayers, Texas Tech hoops spent Wednesday night knocking down its third-straight ranked team, out-dueling highly-touted Oklahoma, 65-63, in front of a raucous Red Raiders home crowd.
But the final buzzer didn’t ring without the underdogs getting a boost from two huge, timely assists: one from their fans and one from the refs.
After climbing back from a 61-57 deficit with just 2:45 to go, Texas Tech relied on a series of calm, cool and collected free throws and its stifling defensive pressure on Sooners standout Buddy Hield to take a two-point lead with just about a possession remaining.
So when Oklahoma’s Ryan Spangler missed the game-tying layup with five seconds to go, the Red Raiders could not wait to celebrate its come-from-behind W. Toddrick Gotcher grabbed the defensive rebound, took a few dribbles, then picked up the rock and began to sprint up the floor -- despite the fact that the clock had not yet expired.
But with the Texas Tech fans pouring down from the grandstands and rushing the court just as Gotcher ran up it, the refs botched the blatant traveling call, thus sealing the bizarre win for the Raiders.
Asked about the incident after the game, Gotcher gave reporters the verbal equivalent of a shrug.
"I think I picked the ball up and started running before the time was out, but I don't know," he explained. "Then I seen a big black wave of people. That was the best feeling in the world. And I'll never forget it for the rest of my life."
Texas Tech’s recent binge of upsets may just earn it an invitation to the Big Dance come March. If so, the program surely owes a tip of the hat to Wednesday's officials and its overly eager home crowd for this last win.
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