LUBBOCK, Texas – Once upon a time, long before either one of them were head basketball coaches at the NCAA Division I level, Texas Tech’s Chris Beard and Abilene Christian’s Joe Golding enjoyed a Willie Nelson concert together at the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum.
On Saturday, the two coaches will lead their respective teams into the last game ever played at the arena.
No. 11 Texas Tech (9-0) usually plays its home games at the United Supermarkets Arena, which opened in 1999. But the program is paying tribute with a special throwback game to send off the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum, the arena the program called home from 1956 to 1999.
Earlier this year, Lubbock voters approved a referendum to give the coliseum and adjoining auditorium to Texas Tech. The school has plans to demolish the facility to make room for new buildings in 2019.
“I hate that. I wish buildings like this would stay forever, but it’s not my decision,” Beard said. “I think everybody in this town has some type of memory with this coliseum.”
It’s the second-straight year the Red Raiders have played a home game at the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum. The Red Raiders defeated Rice, 73-53, in a throwback game in December of 2017.
Beard said his team a year ago took it as an honor to play in the historic arena — Texas Western defeated Kansas there on the Miners’ way to the 1966 national championship, an accomplishment that was featured in the 2006 film “Glory Road.” The Red Raiders were so in awe of the opportunity that Beard said they didn’t play their best at the start in last year’s game.
“I’ve got to do a better job this year coaching, especially since Abilene Christian is so good,” Beard said. “Worthy opponent, a team good enough to come in here and beat us, especially if we’re not on our ‘A’ game.”
To add to the throwback atmosphere, Golding said Beard saw to it that Abilene Christian’s guaranty package for playing the nonconference game included the throwback uniforms the Wildcats will wear on Saturday. Beard coached one season as an assistant at ACU, when Golding was a senior guard for the Wildcats and the two have remained close friends.
Golding said he’s noticed that Texas Tech is playing at a similar level that took the Red Raiders to their first Elite Eight last season.
“I’m not surprised because I know Beard and those guys,” Golding said. “But as much as they lost last year, it’s almost like they haven’t skipped a beat. I think they’re the best defensive team in the country.”
Texas Tech is attempting to start the season with a 10-game winning streak for only the second time in school history. Previously, the Red Raiders won their first 12 games in the 1929-30 campaign.
Similarly, Abilene Christian (9-1) is off to its best start since the program made the move from NCAA Division II to the Southland Conference in Division I in the 2013-14 campaign.
Golding said his team will try to get as many high percentage shots as possible against the Red Raiders’ stingy defense. He said contending with Texas Tech’s 6-foot-10 rim protector Tariq Owens, who is ninth nationally with 2.89 blocked shots per game, will be a unique challenge.
“I guess the bottom line, it ain’t no secret, we’re not going to change everything we do just for Texas Tech,” Golding said. “We’re trying to win conference games and trying to be competitive in the Southland Conference. We want to give our guys the best chance to win, but we’re not going to change everything we do.”