Texas Tech basketball fans showed up Tuesday night, no question about it. But the crowd size and the noise level from a rejuvenated fan base at a sold-out United Supermarkets Arena wasn’t the only focus after the game.
It could have been the flood of boos every time 19-year-old Trae Young for Oklahoma touched the ball. Or maybe the “overrated” chants directed again toward the freshman when the No. 7 Red Raiders sealed what would be an 88-78 win over the No. 23 Sooners. Or maybe the objects thrown onto the court prompting game officials to give warnings to the student section. Or maybe the “OU sucks” chant.
In all likelihood, though, it was the “**** you, Trae Young” chant that was broadcast on the nationally televised game on ESPN that prompted some fans and analysts to chide Tech’s crowd Tuesday night as classless and embarrassing and prompted Tech officials to issue a statement via Twitter Wednesday, encouraging fans to uphold the behavior and language the university expects from them.
“The energy at last night’s game was electric and helped our 7th-ranked Red Raiders remain unbeaten at home,” Tech wrote. “A select number of our vocal fans did not uphold the behavior or language we expect from them. We ask all Red Raiders to strive for honor ever more.”
A spokesman for the University of Oklahoma Athletic Communications department declined to comment on Tech’s student section, but both Young and his father, former Tech basketball player Rayford Young, downplayed the heckling.
“I get that everywhere I go,” Trae Young said when asked about the crowd in his postgame news conference. “Just because I was back here in Lubbock doesn’t mean I was going to get a welcome home — that type of feel. It’s crazy everywhere I go. I wasn’t expecting anything different tonight.”
While much of the post-game social media chatter was on the Red Raider win and its implications on the Big 12 title race, fallout from Tuesday’s fan reaction took some of the focus.
Footage of the the vulgar chants against Young were shown on ESPN after the game, and some fans and analysts took to social media, calling for better behavior.
Tech Student Body President Robbie Meyer wrote, “he deserves to be heckled, not be hated. We need to start acting like a nationally ranked team. Make it hard to play here, but control our language.” Meyer didn’t respond to the A-J’s request for comment Wednesday.
Trae Young has garnered national attention and is expected to be a top NBA draft pick should he opt to go pro after his freshman year. Heading into Tuesday’s game against Tech, the guard averaged 29.5 points and 9.5 assists per game, which both lead the country, according to the A-J’s game preview that also ran Tuesday.
Tech recruited Trae Young, but the nationally ranked recruit chose to remain in Norman. Rayford Young was in attendance for Tuesday’s game.
When Trae Young eliminated Tech from his consideration during his senior year in high school, he was quoted as saying Tech needs more talent. This comment may not have been lost on Tech fans Tuesday.
Some Tech fans took to Twitter to apologize to Rayford Young for the students’ chants, prompting the father to respond there were no hard feelings. He said his son and the rest of his family have heard it before.
To beat the drum on Tech student’s antics even more, a college basketball analyst for ESPN said on ESPNU Radio that what happened Tuesday was “sickening.”
“It’s a bad look for Texas Tech,” ESPN’s Seth Greenberg said. “As much as I love Texas Tech and I’m a huge (Coach) Chris Beard fan, to me the administration not doing anything to basically put that to rest and condemn those people that were doing those things, unacceptable. I’m a little bit disappointed the university hasn’t come out with a statement.”
Greenberg’s comments came Wednesday morning, before Tech released its statement.
Just a month ago, the Big 12 Conference publicly reprimanded both West Virginia’s Wesley Harris and Texas Tech following a court-storming incident after Tech upset the No. 2 Mountaineers in Lubbock. Tech was fined $25,000 for its handling of postgame protocol.
According to an A-J article at the time, Red Raider fans raced onto the hardwood to celebrate the program’s first top-10 win in Lubbock, some running into WVU players attempting to walk back to their bench among the sellout crowd. Several videos circulated on social media showing Harris hitting a fan.
Tech has two home games remaining — both sold out at the venue that holds nearly 15,100. Students were lined up hours before tip-off against Oklahoma to make sure they got in.