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Post-Gillispie, Texas Tech looks better than expected

Nov 26, 2012, 10:20 PM EST

Texas Tech Interim coach Basketball AP

I don’t think that there’s any argument that no college basketball program had a rougher offseason than Texas Tech.

Players revolted and administrators were forced to deal with the mess they brought onto themselves when they hired Billy Gillispie. Mass transfers, stories of player mistreatment — including one report of an eight-hour practice — and violent verbal outbursts were a few of the many problems Gillispie caused until he resigned in late September.

When he left, it wasn’t like he left the cupboard bare. Players like leading returning scorer Jordan Tolbert came back, along with Jaye Crockett.

So we all thought it wouldn’t be as bad as last season’s debacle.

Maybe we were right, but maybe we weren’t that right.

The Red Raiders are 5-0, playing three SWAC teams, a Division II opponent and a transition Division I team. Let’s remember that. But through these early-season cupcakes, Texas Tech is averaging 90.3 points per game, third in the nation. Not to mention, they’re pulling down 43 rebounds per game, 16th nationally. It’s also surrendering just 66 points per game.

Five Red Raiders are also averaging double-figure points, ranging from 14.7 ppg (Crockett) to 11.5 from Trency Jackson. That’s balance, homes, and interim coach Chris Walker should be commended for it.

Again it’s a small sample size against mediocre-to-poor teams, but most teams coming off the summer that Texas Tech had would be happy with just winning games. Texas Tech is winning them the way good programs win them. True, they’re coming off just a nine-point win over Jackson State on Monday night, but couple that with 28 and 35-point victories over Grambling State and Nebraska-Omaha, it’s nothing to scoff at.

What’s more? The Red Raiders don’t leave the friendly confines of United Spirit Arena until a Jan. 5 date with TCU, their Big 12 opener.

But now the greatest test for Texas Tech comes next. No. 9 Arizona visits Lubbock on Saturday. If there’s a time to prove that they’re past the short-lived but turmoil-filled Gilispie era, it’ll be against the Wildcats.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

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