Iowa State guard Chris Babb knows all about eating. His dad Mike and uncles Bob and Davy own and run Babb Bros. BBQ and Blues in Dallas.
Chris Babb, a graduate of Arlington Oakridge School, also knows about “eating” on the basketball court. He coined Iowa State’s “let’s eat” mantra and its corresponding eating motion that signals Babb’s shot is heating up.
That was the case in the second half Thursday when the Cyclones (22-10) defeated Oklahoma 73-66 in the Big 12 men’s quarterfinals.
A buffet of hot shooting helped ISU overcome a famished first half when it was 1 for 12 from 3-point range. The Cyclones made 6 of 14 3-pointers and shot 50 percent overall in the second half to overcome a 14-point deficit.
Babb’s 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining gave the Cyclones a five-point cushion.
ISU advanced to play top-seed Kansas (27-5) at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Babb scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. Babb and ISU hope the “eating” continues against the Jayhawks.
“It’s just something we do,” said Babb, who initiated the gesture during a hot-shooting night at Oklahoma State on Jan. 30. “All of the guys on the bench do it whenever I hit a shot. I had it going and it kind of clicked, and we just kept on doing it. I just try to make this game fun. When you start thinking too much you get your head out of it.”
Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said interim coach Chris Walker is a strong candidate for the full-time job but declined to elaborate on Walker’s status or estimate how long the search will take.
“We’ve had an opportunity over the last five months to know this day was going to come, so to think I would just now start watching teams wouldn’t be accurate,” Hocutt said Thursday after the Red Raiders were eliminated from the Big 12 tournament with a 91-63 loss to top-seed Kansas.
“We’ll move quickly,” he said. “You never put a timeline on anything, right? But I think it’s important that we move through this process as quickly as we can. We want to find the best person for Texas Tech.”
Walker was named Tech’s interim coach in October, two weeks before the season, when former coach Billy Gillispie resigned amid allegations of player mistreatment and his own health issues, which included several hospital stays.
The Red Raiders (11-20, 3-15 Big 12) finished ninth in the conference but beat West Virginia on Wednesday in the first round of the league tournament.
“I recognize where this program is and understand what it’s going to take and the commitment it’s going to take to move it forward,” Hocutt said. “We’re fortunate that we’ve got tremendous resources, we’ve got a very passionate and supportive fan base and we’re a member of the Big 12 Conference. There are lot of advantages when you talk about those opportunities.
“We’re willing to do what we need to do to make sure this program gets going in the right direction. I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for the right person.”
Walker said earlier this week that he considers himself a strong candidate.
“I feel very good about Chris Walker,” Hocutt said. “[I’m] very appreciative and proud of what Chris has achieved. Chris took over a very difficult set of circumstances and handled himself the best anybody could. He taught lessons bigger than basketball to the young men in the locker room this year. Chris has put himself in a position to be strongly considered for the opportunity to continue to lead this program forward.”