The Times West Virginian

Sports

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
Sports
  • Post 17 #18-Post 1 #2  run copy.jpg Wheeling holds off Post 17 rally in state tournament opener: PHOTOS

    Wheeling Post 1 pitcher Mo Felt nearly went the distance in a 7-6 victory over Fairmont Post 17 on Tuesday afternoon at the West Virginia American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Hawley Field.
    Felt struck out seven in 8.1 innings of work in the team’s first-round victory over Fairmont.

    July 31, 2014 9 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • Pirates’ gaffe on bases proves costly

    Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
    Too bad for Hurdle, what we watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.
    A timely, heads-up glance by reliever Jean Machi helped San Francisco take advantage of a gaffe on the bases by Pittsburgh, and the Giants tagged out of two runners who wandered away on the same play grab momentum and end a six-game losing streak.

    July 31, 2014

  • Speedy Shazier making quick impression

    Ryan Shazier grew up the football equivalent of a Rorschach test.
    Some coaches looked at Shazier’s 6-foot-1 frame with plenty of room to grow and saw a defensive end. Others focused on his blazing speed and saw a safety.
    Not Shazier.

    July 31, 2014

  • Wheeling holds off Post 17 rally in state tourney opener

    Wheeling Post 1 pitcher Mo Felt nearly went the distance in a 7-6 victory over Fairmont Post 17 on Tuesday afternoon at the West Virginia American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Hawley Field.

    July 30, 2014

  • Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye

    The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.
    The Pete Dye course, ranked No. 45 on Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses and No. 9 on Golfweek’s ranking of Best Modern Courses, will host 160 of the best junior golfers from 40 states during the 72-hole stroke play event.

    July 30, 2014

  • Scott sees swift title contention for Lakers

    Byron Scott was a key component of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Showtime teams, a smooth shooting guard with sizzling competitive fire. He believes his purple-and-gold championship pedigree makes him the ideal coach to return the struggling 16-time champions to NBA contention.
    “This organization is all about championships, period,” Scott said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. “We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships. We look at (NBA) championships. And we know we have some work ahead of us, but I’m excited. ... I love challenges anyway, so this is going to be fun.”

    July 30, 2014

  • Opinion: People running NCAA may not be bumbling idiots

    Two down, one big one to go.
    And with it a growing realization that maybe the people running the NCAA aren’t the bumbling idiots everyone has been making them out to be.
    The NCAA’s agreement Tuesday to create a $70 million fund to diagnose concussions and brain injuries does more than just give some former and current athletes a bit of peace of mind — if no real money. It also extricates the organization from another serious threat to its existence, one that could have potentially bankrupted it if everyone who ever suffered a concussion playing college sports were somehow able to cash in.

    July 30, 2014

  • Steelers Camp Footbal_time2.jpg Bell looking for more decisive, productive season

    Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
    There were times during his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers running back would place his hand on an offensive lineman’s back and wait patiently for the hole to open.
    Sometimes, one would appear. Sometimes it wouldn’t, mainly because whatever sliver of daylight existed had already been swallowed by darkness while Bell was still trying to read the blocks in front of him.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
Auto Racing Breaking News
Auto Racing Standings