Former Texas Tech coach Chris Beard received a hostile welcome from Red Raiders fans Tuesday as he returned to United Supermarkets Arena for the first time since leaving for Texas following the 2020-21 season. Boos rained down from the sold-out crowd as Beard walked onto the court, and the intensity never relented as the No. 14 Red Raiders outlasted Beard's No. 23 Longhorns 77-64 in a pivotal Big 12 showdown.
The hostility leading up the game was such that Beard was flanked by law enforcement Tuesday night, but the police couldn't protect Texas from the physicality of Texas Tech. The Red Raiders improved to 17-5 (6-3 Big 12) under Beard's replacement Mark Adams, who was promoted from within after Beard's departure.
"(Texas Tech) had a great crowd tonight," Beard said. "Student attendance was noticeable. I thought it was a good college basketball game. Wish we would have played better, but it wasn't for a lack of effort. Our guys battled tonight. But tonight wasn't about me."
While it was Beard's transfer haul at Texas that drew widespread acclaim this offseason, the transfer class Adams brought in continues to impress and has erased any notion of the TTU program going through a rebuilding phase. Oral Roberts transfer Kevin Obanor, UTEP transfer Bryson Williams and Hampton transfer Davion Warren were among the four Texas Tech players to reach double figures on Tuesday along with Beard-era holdover Kevin McCullar.
"I'm tired but also so proud and just appreciative of the way our players played," Adams said. "They showed a lot of heart. Our fans, they were maybe better than our players were. They were outstanding and behaved themselves and just cheering us on. It just shows why we have the best fans in the country. Couldn't say enough about them. It was such an awesome environment. I don't think I've ever experienced anything like that before."
The Longhorns (16-6, 5-4 Big 12) drew within 55-49 at the 8:44 mark of the second half but never got any closer. For a Texas team that began the season ranked No. 5 in the AP Top 25 poll, the loss was the latest reminder that there may not be an immediate ascent under Beard for a program that hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since 2014.
Beard, 48, posted a 112-55 (49-40 Big 12) record in five seasons as Texas Tech's coach and led the Red Raiders to an appearance in the 2019 national title game. He also spent a decade as a Texas Tech assistant earlier in his career. But he is a Texas graduate, and when he chose to return to his alma mater after former UT coach Shaka Smart left for Marquette last year, Texas Tech fans were not enthused.
The nature of his departure, and the fact that it was for an in-state rival, soured the Red Raiders' fan base on Beard, who had breathed life into the TTU program during his tenure. But Tuesday's result gave them some revenge and made it clear that the program is in good hands with Adams in charge.