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
  • NMHS #28 PITCH -TS.jpg Pitching pushes North past Monarchs in game two of doubleheader: PHOTOS

    North Marion coach Vic Seccuro wanted to send a message to his team, telling them to focus, bear down and grit out a victory.
    After falling 13-8 to Braxton County in game one of a Saturday doubleheader, the Huskies bounced back to beat John Marshall, 4-2, Saturday at North Marion High School.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • EFHS #21-OG #11-TS.jpg Bees split with Oak Glen on Senior Day: PHOTOS

    Twice on Saturday the East Fairmont softball team found itself leading Oak Glen 3-1 in the seventh inning.
    The situation was the same in both games of the doubleheader. The way the Bees’ handled it, though, was quiet different.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • NMHS #14, 21-RC #14-TS.jpg Lady Huskies fall to Ritchie County late, 5-4: PHOTOS

    It couldn’t have happened the way it did even if No. 6 Ritchie County had drawn it up.
    The bases were loaded. There were no outs. And by a swing of bad luck a fly ball was dropped in the outfield as two runs came across to score, propelling the Rebels to a 5-4 win over No. 9 North Marion in the final game of the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School Saturday.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • Blue Jackets edge Pens, 4-3, in double OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

    April 20, 2014

  • Braun homers twice, rallies Brewers over Pirates, 8-7

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 20, 2014

  • NMHS #14 hit.jpg North Marion goes 2-for-2; Fairmont Senior 0-for-2 in tournament

    A day after an 11-0 mercy-rule victory at Philip Barbour, the North Marion Huskies were at it again.
    Chelsi Latocha threw three no-hit innings, Shelby King drove in five runs in the first inning and the Huskies rolled to a 20-0 victory over the winless Fairmont Senior Polar Bears in the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School.

    April 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • Brewers’ Lohse beats Pirates again

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 19, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos