In a roll-with-the-punches kind of season, Texas Tech and Troy found a way to adjust when both teams abruptly had games cancelled this week because of COVID-19 concerns.
Instead of either team having to turn over stones looking for a new opponent, a connection between the two coaching staffs paid dividends.
Trojans head coach Scott Cross and Texas Tech assistant Ulric Maligi have a long-term friendship, so when Maligi saw that Troy's game had been cancelled, he made a quick phone call.
The result was a hastily put-together contract, complete with signatures, for an 8 p.m. matchup Friday on ESPN2.
"To get a quality opponent, we're appreciative of a lot of people that made the game happen," Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said.
Added Cross, "They asked if we were interested and obviously we were because you can't pass up an opportunity to play a team like Texas Tech on national TV. We just had to get the details worked out and make sure that all the COVID-19 protocols were worked out and in place."
Both teams are coming off losses, making the desire to get back on the court as soon as possible that much more pressing.
The Red Raiders dropped a 64-53 decision to Houston in a matchup of ranked teams on Sunday, while Troy dropped a 73-50 decision against North Carolina-Wilmington.
Texas Tech was unable to overcome a terrible first-half performance in the loss to the Cougars. The Red Raiders started slowly, connecting on only 7-of-21 from the field and turning the ball over 12 times on the way to a 37-19 halftime deficit.
A second-half rally closed the gap to 56-49, but Texas Tech ran out of gas and time in its first true test of the new season.
"I think this will spark something, will wake us up in a certain situation and (make us) realize: how bad we want this," said Red Raiders guard Mac McClung, the team's leading scorer in each of the first three games. He had 16 vs. Houston but missed all six 3-point shots he launched.
"We have to come correct every single game. Mentally we can come and be beaten if we're not coming correct. So I think this will build a spark and a hunger for us next game and moving forward."
Troy's woes were more in the second half of the loss to UNCW, although the Trojans didn't play particularly well at any point.
In its lowest scoring game since Feb. 28, 2019, Troy hit only 7-of-29 field goals in the second half and was limited to 21 points. Kam Woods leads the Trojans in scoring with 14 points a game. Junior big man Zay Williams is scoring 11.5 a contest and has grabbed 18 rebounds in two games.
--Field Level Media