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Tech easily handles Texas A&M as Knight wins 900th game

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- Bob Knight didn't have No. 900 on his mind.

His Texas Tech team eased his thoughts just the same Wednesday night with a 68-53 win over Texas A&M (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) that made him the first men's Division I coach to reach that figure.

"This thing never entered my mind," Knight said. "I could care less about this. I'm just happy to get it over with."

But he did go on to wax nostalgic just as he did when he surpassed former North Carolina coach Dean Smith for first place on the Division I career list last season with win No. 880. Like that milestone, Knight got his 900th victory on his second try.

"I'm happy that I've been able to coach this long 'cause I've basically enjoyed coaching probably 70-30, anyhow," he said. "That's a mark of longevity as much as anything so I'm just glad I've lived this long."

After the game fans chanted Knight's name as he walked off the court to a thunderous ovation.

"You folks being here, seats being full for a change, really made a difference tonight," Knight told the crowd before leaving the court.

The win was Tech's third straight over an Aggies team ranked in the top 10. Last season the Red Raiders beat A&M twice by a combined four points. The Aggies were ranked No. 6 (AP) going into each game and were on nine- and five-game winning streaks, respectively.

"Can't explain it," said Joseph Jones, who played in all three of the losses to Tech. "They got our number, like you said. They've got us the last two years."

The Aggies (15-2, 1-1 Big 12) looked frazzled and out of sync most of the game. A&M went 18-for-53 from the field in its worst shooting performance (34 percent) of the season and they turned the ball over a season-high 20 times.

"We were really bad," A&M Coach Mark Turgeon said. "That's the only way I can put it. I think Tech was really good and we were bad."

Knight lauded his team.

"That was about as good, in that context, as I think I've ever had a team play," he said. "It was obviously a really good win but there isn't any such thing as a bad win, I guess.

"I hope it's an indication to our players how they can play."

Martin Zeno scored 19 points and Trevor Cook added a career-high 14 for Texas Tech (10-6, 1-1).

Charlie Burgess, who scored eight points for the Red Raiders, said the win was about desire.

"We just wanted it more than them," he said. "And basically we tried not to let that 900 thing get in the way but we really needed that tonight just to get it out of the way."

The 67-year-old Knight has been a head coach for 42 years at three Division I schools. He got his 100th victory at Army, then moved to Indiana, where his Hoosiers went 662-239 and won three national championships from 1971-00.

His first NCAA title came in 1976 when Indiana went undefeated, a feat no team has done since. In 1984, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Los Angeles.

Two women's coaches have reached 900 wins: Tennessee's Pat Summitt has 961 and former Texas coach Jody Conradt retired after last season with 900.

The career victory leader in men's coaching is Harry Statham of McKendree University, an NAIA school. The 70-year-old coach has won 949 games in 42 seasons.

The Aggies used a 14-4 run to whittle the Red Raiders' lead to 39-31 with about 16 minutes remaining.

But Tech stiffened and went on a 20-4 run to go up by 56-35 with 7:45 remaining. The run included two 3-pointers by Cook and one by Alan Voskuil.

A&M never threatened after that.

Josh Carter and Joseph Jones scored 11 points each to lead the Aggies.

Knight, in his seventh season at Tech, has never opened Big 12 play with consecutive losses. The win kept that record in tact.

Asked if he could fathom 900 wins, Turgeon offered that his bosses might call it quits on him at 200 wins.

"It's amazing," he said. "He does what he does and he does it well. I hope I'm playing golf when I'm his age, enjoying it, but we'll see."