KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- After bringing the curtain down on Pat Knight's time as Texas Tech coach, Missouri's Mike Anderson heaped praise on his fired colleague.
"I want to compliment Pat Knight," Anderson said Wednesday night after Missouri held on for an 88-84 victory in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.
"What a class guy."
Marcus Denmon scored 20 points as the Tigers fended off two second-half rallies by the Red Raiders, who knew if they lost it would be the final game for Knight and his staff.
Knight was fired on Monday, effective whenever Tech was eliminated from the conference tournament. The son of Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, who coached Tech while grooming Pat for the job, finished 50-61 in three disappointing seasons.
"If anybody's looking for a house in Lubbock, Texas, I know seven that are available," Knight deadpanned.
Twice Missouri (23-9) had big runs and appeared to pull away. But the Red Raiders (13-19) responded each time and made it close before the Tigers finally nailed down the victory to end a three-game losing streak and advance to a second-round game Thursday against Texas A&M.
John Roberson had 28 points for Texas Tech.
"We fought hard," Roberson said. "Everyone came with a lot of intensity. We wanted to win the game for our coach. We came up a little short."
With Denmon and Kim English canning 3-pointers, the Tigers scored the first eight points of the second half and seized a 56-44 lead that ballooned to 58-45 on a bucket by Michael Dixon, who totaled 17 points.
But Roberson followed with a 10-footer and the Red Raiders unreeled an 18-5 run, tying it 63-all on Roberson's fourth 3-pointer. David Tairu, one of five seniors on Knight's last team, drilled a 3-pointer and converted a rare four-point play in the spree.
Then back came the Tigers, with Denmon and Dixon hitting 3-pointers in a 15-4 spurt, taking a 78-67 lead on Steve Moore's layup.
Mike Singletary's bucket halted the spree for a moment, but English, fouled on consecutive trips down the court, sank four straight free throws, giving the Tigers an 82-69 lead.
Another 3-pointer by Roberson ignited a 13-2 run by Tech. Brad Reese's two free throws made it 84-82. Phil Pressey's two foul shots put Missouri back on top 86-82 before Roberson, fouled by Pressey, made two free throws of his own that shrank the lead to 86-84.
"We knew they were going to be a hungry ball club coming in," said Denmon. "The coach was leaving, and they probably wanted to send him out in style. But we came into the game with the same mindset and focus we come into all our games. I knew they were playing for a lot, but we were, too."
With 18 seconds left, Tairu was called for a foul on Dixon, who made one foul shot. Denmon rebounded a Texas Tech miss on the other end and drew a foul. The Tigers' top scorer, with 1.7 seconds left, made one of two foul shots.
Tairu had 16 points for Texas Tech, Singletary 13, and D'walyn Roberts 12.
English had 15 points and four assists for Missouri, which lost to Texas A&M in overtime in the regular season.
Knight remained upbeat.
"(It finished) on a disappointing note. But it was a great chapter in my basketball career. It was 10 great years, seven as an assistant, three as the head coach," he said. "I love the people, the city and the college. It's not like I'm going to be rooting against them. I wish the best for them. I just wish we had won more games."
And yes, he said, he has talked to his father about what happened.
"He's not as understanding as I am. But that's just between the two of us."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)