|Field Goal %||40.0||45.1|
|Three Point %||50.0||40.0|
|Free Throw %||63.2||52.4|
The #18 West Virginia Mountaineers (24-9 13-7) knocked off the #14 Texas Tech Red Raiders (24-9 12-8) 66-63 to move on to the Big XII Championship Game.
This game lived up to everything you thought it was going to be heading into it. With two of the best defenses in the Big XII it was tough to find points.
In the first five minutes of the game, both teams were matching each other in intensity on defense. Texas Tech got into a rhythm first going on an 8-0 run in just under three minutes to take a 15-6 lead and West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins took a thirty-second timeout.
The Mountaineers came out of the timeout and scored nine straight points to tie the game up at 15 in two minutes. West Virginia guard Jevon Carter started it off with a tough lay in at the basket absorbing a foul. On the next play, he would pick up his second foul with 12:36 left in the first half and would come out of the game with the Mountaineers down seven.
Beetle Bolden checked into the game and immediately drew a charge giving the Mountaineers the ball back. He was shaken up on the play and Chase Harler came in, but Bolden came right back into the game.
West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr hit his first three of the game and Bolden stole the ball on the inbounds pass and laid it in. On the ensuing possession, Beetle drove down the lane for another layup and the game was tied at 15.
“He (Beetle Bolden) comes in, he’s a spark for us that’s what he does. It’s always big when he comes in and plays like that.” Said Carter
Texas Tech worked their way up to a six-point lead, outscoring the Mountaineers 8-2, with 6:17 to play in the first half.
The Mountaineers started to impose their will on the Red Raiders and went on a 10-0 run to take four-point lead. Dax hit a three during that span and had a hustle play saving the ball from going out of bounds on an offensive rebound, getting the ball to Maceij Bender, who then found Carter for a three.
West Virginia almost held Texas Tech six minutes without scoring until guard David Moretti made a three with 36 seconds left in the half to cut the lead to 27-26 and that was the score heading into halftime.
Daxter Miles Jr led all scorers with eight points on 3-4 shooting from the field and 2-3 from behind the arc.
Forward Wesley Harris was making his presence known with five points and four rebounds. Jevon Carter had five and two assists.
The Mountaineers and Red Raiders were evenly matched on the stat sheet. They both went 10-25 from the field and 4-8 from three. The extra point for West Virginia came from the free throw line. Neither team shot well from the charity stripe. The Mountaineers were 3-7 and the Red Raiders were 2-5. Texas Tech had the rebounding edge, 18-16, and both had six turnovers.
The second half started just like the first half with both teams trying to find ways to score and trading buckets.
Texas Tech tied the game up at 35 and Jevon Carter hit three straight threes but the Mountaineers would only lead by five 44-39 with 12:18 left in the game.
West Virginia held a three-point lead 44-41, when Mountaineer forward Wesley Harris grabbed an offensive rebound and as he was falling out of bounds, he threw it off a Texas Tech player keeping the possession alive. That resulted in Dax hit a pair of free throws after being fouled attacking the rim.
The Mountaineers were up eight before Texas Tech scored eight straight points in a little over a minute to tie the game up at 56. The Red Raiders took their first lead in the second half after Jarret Culver went 1-2 from the free throw line 57-56 with 4:14 to play.
Jevon Carter responded, taking the ball down the lane hitting a short jumper and getting fouled. He would complete the three-point play with the free throw giving the Mountaineers a two-point lead. West Virginia never lost the lead again.
Mountaineer forward Sagaba Konate came up clutch down the stretch. They fed the big man and he hit a little jump hook and got an offensive rebound off a Carter miss and put it back in. Then hit two free throws to give West Virginia a four-point lead with 1:11 left in the game. Sags scored six of the final seven points for the Mountaineers.
With West Virginia hanging on to a two-point lead, Texas Tech forward Zhaire Smith grabbed the offensive rebound as it was going out of bounds and tried to throw it into the backcourt, but Dax jumped up and snagged the ball out of the air and he was immediately fouled with six seconds left to play.
Dax hit the first free throw but missed the second. With Texas Tech out of timeouts, Wesley Harris and Esa Ahmad stopped Niem Stevenson from dribbling down the floor and he had to pass it off to Justin Gray who launched a shot just over half-court that was off the mark.
Wesley Harris had seven points and most importantly seven rebounds. He only had five rebounds in his last five games. He had a huge impact on the game with his defense and hustle.
Senior guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr led all scorers. They combined for a total 39 points. They hit clutch shot after clutch shot throughout the game to keep West Virginia in the lead or regain the lead.
If its any indication on how these two seniors have played in the tournament, they will be heading home with the Big XII Trophy. We were two guys they were looking for at the beginning of the season to lead this team. Us clicking together at the right time at the end of the season is big for us.” Said Carter.
The Mountaineers take on Kansas for the Big XII Championship Saturday night at 6:00 pm Est on ESPN.
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