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December 18, 2013

Smith hated Tech's final play

Texas Tech's unbeaten home record was taken by LSU on Wednesday in the United Spirit Arena in a 71-69 nail-biting loss.

Even Billy Gillispie would spin Red Raider home losses as learning and building experiences. Tubby Smith was not happy with how his team lost the first time the majority of the Lubbock media was exposed to one in person.

Point guard Robert Turner took a 3-point shot at the buzzer that clanked off the rim. It wasn't the play Smith drew up.

"It wasn't even close," Smith said. "There were supposed to be three screens set and I don't think one was set. Rob was supposed to turn the corner, it's a two-point game, and he had an option. There was supposed to be a screen, then a flair screen and then a re-screen. I promise you there wasn't one set.

"To shoot a fall-away three? No. That was not what was drawn up. That was my fault that we drew it up. We didn't practice it today, but we will practice it tomorrow."

Had Turner sunk the shot, Tech would have taken its first lead of the game with virtually no time left on the clock.

The Red Raiders played the entire game from behind. However, they tied the game on two separate occasions and reeled back from a seven-point deficit at the 10-minute mark of the second half for an opportunity to win late or force overtime.

Tech (7-4) surprisingly beat LSU (7-2) in rebounds by one with 28 total. It shot 31-of-39 from the free throw line, committed nine less fouls than LSU and had five fewer turnovers with 13.

"I think the guys (Smith) has inherited here, he's done an excellent job of getting those guys to play within his system," LSU and former North Texas head coach Johnny Jones said. "That's something hard to do very early on, especially when you have a senior dominated club."

The United Spirit Arena was louder than it has been all season. A 'BCS conference' team draws more attention and 5,985 fans attended despite lacking a student section with school not being in session.

The crowd seemed to make LSU feel uncomfortable on some critical possessions, including a shot clock violation on its final possession of the game to set up Tech's make-or-break final possession.

"I think the crowd was great," Tech senior forward Dejan Kravic said. "We were talking to each other, for example, saying 'switch, switch' and we couldn't even hear each other talking to ourselves. The crowd was amazing. They really pumped us up and kept us in the game."

Perhaps experience grinded LSU to a victory.

The Tigers lost their season-opener at UMass by two points and later won by two points in overtime against a good Butler program a game after losing by seven points versus now-No. 15 Memphis.

That doesn't mean much to Tech though. The Red Raiders are a program that stared a big momentum builder in the face after mowing down mid-majors and falling by big margins against well-known programs.

"They weren't calling many ticky-tack fouls," Turner said. "It was kind of a straight up game. Whoever wanted it more was going to win and they came out victorious tonight."

Jaye Crockett had a game-best 18 points. Turner added 14 more points for the Red Raiders.

Kravic was a huge player down low with 10 total boards.

But Smith wanted more. He wanted a perception-changing win prior to taking on Arizona State, Mount St. Mary's and beginning Big 12 play.

"It's not hard," Smith said. "Just do what you're told and we'll be OK. It's when you do something else like shoot a three. I'm not going to tolerate it and it's not going to happen again. They're going to play the way I say play. It's as simple as that."

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