COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M was desperate for a win on Saturday.
Coach Billy Kennedy said the fact that the Aggies were facing former A&M and first-year Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie had no bearing on his desire to get it.
Khris Middleton, Elston Turner and Naji Hibbert scored 12 points each and Texas A&M took advantage of a poor-shooting Texas Tech team to get its first Big 12 Conference win, 67-54.
"I'm just glad we won," Kennedy said when asked if it meant more to win against Gillispie. "It wouldn't have mattered if we played (a local high school). We needed one."
Texas A&M (10-6, 1-3) never trailed, and the Red Raiders couldn't overcome a tough start where they didn't make a field goal until more than 10 minutes into the game.
"We did a really good job defensively the first 10 minutes and set the tone," Kennedy said.
The Aggies led by 17 at halftime and used a 10-2 run punctuated by a dunk by David Loubeau to extend the lead to 44-19 with 16 minutes remaining.
The win snapped a three-game skid for the Aggies and was their fifth straight over Texas Tech (7-9, 0-4).
Jaye Crockett had 19 points and eight rebounds to lead the Red Raiders, the only team in the Big 12 without a conference win.
Texas Tech went on a 12-5 run late in the game with most of A&M's starters on the bench to cut the lead to 14. But the Aggies broke Tech's full-court press on the next play, and Ray Turner finished with an alley-oop dunk to stretch the lead to 66-50 with less than 30 seconds remaining.
"We dig ourselves in a hole and then we try to fight back at the end," Crockett said. "It's real tough on the team when we do that."
Dash Harris added 11 points, seven assists and a season-high four steals for the Aggies. Turner finished with 10 points.
"We just came out aggressive and some shots fell for us early in the game," Harris said. "We got some good looks early, some easy buckets and that's what got us going."
Clark Lammert was the only other Red Raider in double digits with 10 points. Luke Adams and DeShon Minnis chipped in seven points apiece.
It wasn't the return Gillispie was hoping for in his first visit to College Station as an opposing coach. Gillispie went 70-26 in three seasons at A&M before leaving to become Kentucky's coach in 2007. He guided the Aggies to the NIT in his first season and the NCAA tournament the next two years, including the round of 16 in 2007.
"Not very good," Gillispie said when asked how his return was. "We got our tail kicked, and I don't like it. I think the people that are here know that about me."
When pressed about what the trip meant to him, Gillispie fought back tears as he spoke.
"It's a special deal today, there's a lot of great people here, there's a lot of great relationships," he said. "I'm just real disappointed that all those people that know what we can do saw us not compete better than we did."
The Red Raiders were playing without freshman Terran Petteway, who Gillispie suspended for a game for elbowing a Kansas player on Wednesday. Petteway was ejected after the incident in the first half of Tech's 81-46 loss to the 10th-ranked Jayhawks, and Gillispie announced the suspension the next day.
Petteway traveled to College Station for the game, but sat in the stands.
Texas Tech shot 33 percent on Saturday after shooting 31 percent against Kansas. Tech had a season-high 23 turnovers that A&M converted into 21 points.
The teams combined to shoot 59 free throws, with Tech making 22 and A&M 18.
The Red Raiders missed eight shots and had six turnovers before making their first basket with less than 10 minutes left in the first half. By then, they were down 16-5.
Crockett had a 3-point play soon afterward, but A&M used a 9-2 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Hibbert, to push the lead to 25-10 about six minutes before halftime.
The Aggies led 34-17 at halftime. Texas Tech shot just 21 percent before the break.
Follow Kristie Rieken on Twitter @kristieAP