Freshman Eron Harris
scored 18 points and West Virginia shot a season-high 55.6 percent from the field as the Mountaineers rolled to a 77-61 victory over Texas Tech Saturday afternoon in Big 12 men’s basketball action at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.
With the victory, veteran coach Bob Huggins moved past Don Haskins into 19th place in NCAA history with 720 career wins and he needs just five more wins to pass Ray Meyer in 18th place with 724 victories.
“We took good shots and once we got to where we could play with the clock a little bit and spread them out with Juanny (Juwan Staten
) and Gary (Browne) …,” said Huggins.
West Virginia (10-11, 3-5) never trailed and built an early 16-4 lead before the Red Raiders began to display signs of life. Tech used a 10-0 run to reduce West Virginia’s lead to two, 16-14, and several times trailed by three, including a 34-31 deficit at halftime when Ty Nurse banged a 3 just ahead of the buzzer.
“The first half it really could have been 30-2 to start the game if we don’t throw the ball away,” said Huggins.
In the second half, the Mountaineers once again built their lead to double digits, 48-38, on a Juwan Staten
steal and dunk, and were hanging on to a six-point lead, 59-53, at the under-eight timeout.
Then, leading by just four, 59-55, after a Josh Gray jumper, West Virginia had its best stretch of the game during a two-minute period when Harris and Gary Browne
drilled back-to-back 3s to push the margin back to 10, 65-55, and then Dominique Rutledge
added a layup with 4:14 left to put the Mountaineers ahead by 12.
West Virginia’s lead swelled to 15 on another Rutledge layup with 2:12 left in the game.
The Mountaineers hit 26-of-46 from the floor, including 10-of-18 from 3. Harris, Browne and Terry Henderson
made three 3s each, while forward Kevin Noreen
added the other triple.
In addition to Harris’ 18, Aaric Murray
came off the bench to contribute 12; Browne added 11 and Staten had 11. Six different players scored at least 9 points to allow West Virginia score its most points in a Big 12 game this season and eclipse the 70-point mark for only the second time in conference action this season.
“We passed the ball – it wasn’t a dribbling exhibition today and we made some cuts,” said Huggins.
Harris had reached double figures in four straight games before posting a 2-point performance in last Monday night’s six-point loss to top-ranked Kansas at the Coliseum. He now has topped double figures in nine games this season.
Nurse led Texas Tech, now 9-10, 2-6, with 14 points. The Red Raiders committed 22 turnovers and both teams combined for 40 turnovers for the game.
“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.
“We continually shoot ourselves in the foot. It really shouldn’t have been what it ended up being if we just take care of the ball and pass the ball,” Huggins added.
West Virginia has a quick turnaround, facing Texas on Monday night at the Coliseum at 9 p.m. in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN.
The West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics will be holding a Military and First Responder Appreciation Night for the meeting against the Longhorns.
Military members and first responders can purchase a $10 ticket at the Mountaineer Ticket Office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or at the Coliseum ticket windows beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Monday. Tickets are still on sale for the game by visiting WVUGAME.com.
West Virginia defeated Texas 57-53 in overtime in Austin earlier this year. The Longhorns play TCU later this evening.