LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- Steve Alford, John Havlicek, Jerry Tarkanian and Fuzzy Zoeller traveled to cotton country to see Bob Knight make history.
If they don't mind sticking around a few days, they can watch him try again.
Knight's Texas Tech team fell behind UNLV early and never recovered, losing 74-66 Thursday night to leave him tied with Dean Smith atop the men's Division I win list.
Knight's next chance for No. 880 will come Monday at home against New Mexico. History is on his side: He's never needed more than two tries to hit milestones such as 300, 400, 600, 700 and 800.
Just to be safe -- and to be crusty, cranky Bob Knight -- he told his buddies "they might have to stay here three weeks."
"That would be a boon to the economy," said Knight, who is in his sixth season living in Lubbock, the hub of the largest contiguous cotton-growing region in the world.
About 30 of Knight's cronies showed up, ranging from Ohio State teammates such as Havlicek to former players at Army and Indiana, like Alford.
"I was really tickled," Knight said. "They are people I've known for a long time, and it's nice they keep track of [the record]. But it's not like a record in the Masters or breaking Babe Ruth's record."
Even before the game, Knight was making contingency plans.
"He told me in the locker room, 'Now, if I don't win tonight, you going to come back on the 1st?'" said Alford, the coach at Iowa. "We don't play on the 1st, so I'll do my best."
Anticipation that Knight would break the record on his first try drew a crowd of 15,098, one of the largest in school history.
The usually staid fans were into it from the start, giving Knight a standing ovation when he emerged before the game, with some chanting "Bob-by!" Three students painted their bodies red and spelled out 8-8-0 in black on their chests. Another fan summed up Knight's mood toward the inevitable accomplishment with a sign that read, "Let's get this over with," quotes and all.
But Knight's motion offense and man-to-man defense both let him down.
Tech (10-4) came in as the nation's most-accurate 3-point shooting team, but made only one of 12. UNLV (12-2) was 11-of-25 from behind the arc.
The Red Raiders were on the wrong end of a 13-2 run and trailed 32-23 at halftime. Their deficit peaked at 19 almost midway through the second half, prompting hundreds of fans to start leaving before Knight's club made a pretty good comeback, one aided by UNLV failing to make a basket over the last 6:21.
Tech got to 66-55 on a layup by Jay Jackson with 3:54 left when Knight drew his first technical of the season. It seemed like he was arguing a non-call, but he said it was problems with the ensuing inbounds pass that set him off.
"I thought they stepped over the line twice -- once when they threw it in and once when the guy caught it," Knight said, laughing and adding: "I [also] thought Jackson had been fouled on the play, but that wasn't my comment."
The Red Raiders eventually got to 68-62 with 1:38 to go, but the Runnin' Rebels protected their lead by making six straight foul shots.
"We used a lot of really good energy at a time when we should've been tired," Knight said. "Where was our energy earlier?"
Led by former NBA coach Lon Kruger, who improved to 8-2 against Knight, the Runnin' Rebels obviously didn't want to be first-hand witnesses to history. Every big basket or exciting play was punctuated by guys jumping up off the bench, high-fiving and spinning around, as if this was an NCAA tournament game.
"I'm very happy for him," Kruger said of Knight's pending accomplishment, "yet I'm not displeased that we delayed the celebration for at least a game or two."
The Rebels, who won their eighth straight, were making only a third of their 3s coming in and were 4-of-18 in their last game, but their game plan was based around the long ball. Five of their first seven baskets were 3s and they didn't even go to the foul line until there was 8:13 left in the game.
By then, several hundred fans already had made their way to the exits.
Many could be back Monday thanks to Project 880, a ticket-selling gimmick aimed at filling parts of the arena that usually go unsold, especially while school is out for winter break. That's one of the few things that bothers Knight about Tech, where he's in his sixth season after being fired by Indiana following three national championships in 29 years.
Instead of his 880th win, Knight took his 354th loss in 41 seasons. Tech had won four straight games and six of seven.
Martin Zeno led Tech with 22 points and Jackson, who was 1-of-6 on 3s, had 20.