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January 16, 2008
Knight became the first men's Division I coach to reach the milestone Wednesday night with the Red Raiders' 68-53 win over No. 10 Texas A&M.
"I'm ... glad it's over," Knight said when asked to succinctly sum up his feelings.
Charlie Burgess, who scored eight points for Texas Tech (10-6, 1-1 Big 12), 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."
Knight, in his seventh season at Tech, has never opened Big 12 play with consecutive losses. The win kept that record in tact.
Knight went on to wax nostalgic just as he did when he surpassed former North Carolina coach Dean Smith for first place on the men's 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."
Before he left the floor Knight addressed the more than 11,000 fans who watched the win over the Aggies and they chanted his 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.
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 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."
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."
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 950 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.
Jones and Josh Carter scored 11 points each to lead the Aggies.
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."