KANSAS CITY - One season ago, the opening round of the Big 12 Championship turned Texas Tech forward Mike Singletary into a star. Today, down early to Colorado in the opening round, coach Pat Knight and the Red Raiders were in need of another star effort.
Enter junior guard John Roberson.
In wasn't exactly as stunning as Singletary's 44-point effort a year ago, but Roberson scored 19 points in helping the No. 9 Texas Tech Red Raiders overcome poor early shooting in a 82-67 defeat of the No. 8 Colorado Buffaloes.
Colorado jumped out to an early 6-1 lead, primarily on the play of junior guard Marcus Relaphorde. Early on, Pat Knight had his players focusing primarily on the guard tandem of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins. Colorado's primary scorers were more than content to defer to Relaphorde, who scored eight of Colorado's first 11 points. The early success drew pressure away from the duo, who parlayed the newly created breathing room into 18 of Colorado's 31 first half points.
By the second media timeout, Colorado had jumped out to a 10-point lead; at the time, Colorado was shooting 60 percent from the field to the Red Raiders' 18.2 percent.
However, Texas Tech responded with an 8-4 run in the next four minutes to cut the Buffalo lead to four, and tied the game with 6:24 remaining in the first half. This came in the midst of a 10-minute stretch in which the Red Raiders turned a 10-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
Roberson, who led all players with 12 first-half points, moved right and drilled a step-back three with three seconds remaining to put the Red Raiders up five at the break, capping off a 27-13 Tech run to end the half.
Tech was able to push the ball in transition more in the second half, resulting in several opportunities in the paint for guards Nick Okorie and David Tairu. The Red Raiders never led by less than eight points in the second half, as Roberson transitioned from shooter to passer and facilitated much of the Raider offense. Roberson had nine assists in the game, seven of them in the second half.
Colorado cut the lead, which had been double digits for the majority of the second half, to eight with under three minutes to play, but could not pull any closer.
Texas Tech will face top-seeded Kansas tomorrow in an ESPN2-televised game scheduled to tip off at 11:30 a.m. Kansas defeated Texas Tech, 89-63, in the teams' only meeting this season.