The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

February 3, 2013

WVU finds footing, topples Texas Tech on road

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia bounced back from a disappointing 5-point home loss to conference leader Kansas with one of its strongest performances of the season, routing Texas Tech, 77-61, to give hope that coach Bob Huggins was right when he said his team still had a chance at making the NCAA Championships this season.

The victory ended a spell of four losses in five games and lifted the Mountaineers to 10-11 for the season and 3-5 in the Big 12 conference, while the Red Raiders fell to 9-10 and 2-6.

“We can still make a run. We can conceivably get ourselves on the bubble or better,” Huggins had said before leaving for Lubbock, Texas, on Friday. “Everyone wants to believe they have some hope. I don’t think that’s a hard sell.”

The victory was the 720th of Huggins career, which moved him past Don “The Bear” Haskins and alone into 19th place all time. He needs four more victories to match former DePaul coach Ray Meyers in 18th place.

WVU had played badly for most of the year before taking Kansas down to the wire with a strong, emotional performance, but the Mountaineers could not pull out the victory and no one was sure how they would react to the defeat.

It wasn’t going to be easy and it surely wasn’t going to be possible if they continued playing the way they had played.

Against Texas Tech, they didn’t.

They jumped off to a 12-point lead at 14-2 early with Deniz Kilicli showing the game everyone had expected from him in his senior season. He was behind the fast start and finished with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and a steal.

“I thought he gave us a big-time effort tonight. He had great energy. He’s frustrating sometimes and he doesn’t do some of the things you think he’s capable of doing, but he’s a great kid,” Huggins said, noting that it was important to put him in situations where the matchups were right.

And that energy he had was contagious.

WVU could not shake Texas Tech, though, and the Red Raiders cut the lead to three at the half, and midway through the second half they had narrowed it to 59-55.

Everyone in the building could sense this was a huge moment, especially the way WVU had let leads slip away earlier this year.

But this was when the two key players in the game stepped forward for WVU, freshman Eron Harris and sophomore Gary Browne.

Harris had suffered through a tough first half, making just one of five shots, and Browne had been through a dismal shooting season, owning but one 3-point basket in 13 attempts in Big 12 play coming into the game.

This would prove to be different.

Harris hit a 3, part of a huge outbreak by him that saw him lead all scorer with 18 points, and Browne would follow with another 3, his third of the game. Then when another guard, Juwan Staten, made a steal and dunk, the lead was back to 12 points.

“We kind of let those guards play,” Huggins said. “Gary hit a huge shot.”

Certainly, in the end, it was the guard play which allowed WVU to widen the lead down the stretch.

“We passed the ball — it wasn’t a dribbling exhibition today and we made some cuts,” said Huggins.

And that allowed the Mountaineers to get good shots, hitting a season high 56.5 percent for the game and a scorching 65 percent in the second half. The Mountaineers, notoriously bad 3-point shooters all season, made 10 of 18 with Harris showing the way as he bounced back from a two-point performance against Kansas.

Once the lead grew back to double figures WVU took control of everything that went on.

“The point-drop (defense) really slowed them down,” said Huggins. “They were trying to figure out what we were doing, which nobody can figure out because we have no idea what we’re doing.”

WVU forced 22 turnovers and stole the ball 10 times, which never allowed Texas Tech to get going on the kind of roll necessary to move into the lead.

WVU has a fast turnaround, flying home and facing Texas at 9 p.m. on Monday in an ESPN game.

NOTES: WVU has played Texas Tech twice and won both times, the first time coming in the 2005 Sweet 16 in Albuquerque when Bobby Knight coached the Red Raiders … WVU guard Juwan Staten left the game in the first half with an ankle injury but came back and played well in the second half … Bob Huggins is 39-1 in games when his team shoots 50 percent at West Virginia.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads