Rushed Reactions: West Virginia 66, Texas Tech 63

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 10th, 2018

RTC’s Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman) is providing on-site coverage of the Big 12 Tournament.

Three Key Takeaways.

Daxter Miles Gets a Third Shot This Season at Kansas (USA Today Images)

  1. Not Your In-Laws’ Mountaineers. West Virginia’s trademark press didn’t generate the same results as usual, as the Red Raiders turned the ball over on just 15.6 percent of their possessions Friday night. On most nights, that would cause trouble for the Mountaineers since they have such a hard time scoring in Bob Huggins‘ motion offense, but they scored an even 1.00 points per possession in the winning effort. After the game, Huggins acknowledged that the grind of the conference tournament environment led him to pull back the reins, but the adjustment clearly worked. The Mountaineers actually relinquished their Big 12 defensive turnover percentage crown to Kansas State this season as conference opponents have grown accustomed to West Virginia’s brand of havoc; while it would be silly to expect the Mountaineers to completely abandon their hallmark defensive style, their ability to create offense without relying as heavily on turnovers is a positive sign moving forward.
  2. Texas Tech’s offense regresses. Chris Beard‘s team appeared to find its footing over the back half of conference play, as it entered Friday night’s game having scored at least 1.09 points per possession in its previous five outings. West Virginia, however, made frontcourt offense a struggle for the most surprising team in the Big 12. Keenan Evans and Tommy Hamilton IV were the only players who were able to get into any semblance of rhythm, and even then, it was fleeting; Evans uncharacteristically — and unsuccessfully — played hero ball on the game’s decisive possession, and the half-court heave on the next trip looked good out of his hand but rimmed out at the buzzer. Credit is also due to the Mountaineers’ interior defense, as Sagaba KonateEsa Ahmad and Wesley Harris frequently met the Red Raiders at the rim and emerged victorious more often than not.
  3. Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles are looking to go out with a bang. It’s strange knowing that Carter and Miles have just one more game left at the Sprint Center, and on Friday night the senior duo made sure to leave an imprint, combining for 39 points and an atypically hot 9-of-16 clip from distance. The Mountaineers were unusually competent in the half-court, and their leaders needed to be as they didn’t get very much help from their supporting cast.

Star of the GameDaxter Miles, Jr. With the Mountaineers needing to score in different ways than what they’re used to, Miles answered the call. Building off a terrific outing in his previous meeting against the Red Raiders, he was confident in his jump shot all night, connecting on 5-of-9 attempts from deep on the evening. Success from his three-pointer has come and gone throughout the season, but it was most definitely on this Friday night.

Quotable: “I know this: One year ago, we were at this tournament and our season was over. Tonight it’s not… I think we’ve earned the right to have a good seed. We play in the toughest conference in the country and we’ve really competed. With a couple games left, we were in the race for the regular season championship and tonight we [were] in the semifinals of the tournament. So I think our team speaks for itself, but I’m not in that room making those decisions.” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard makes one last case to the NCAA Tournament committee for a high seed.

What’s Next? After dropping the last two Big 12 Tournament championship games, West Virginia hopes that the third time will be the charm. In order for that to come to fruition, however, they’ll have to beat Kansas, a team against which no Mountaineers’ lead appears to be safe. Now having lost five of its last seven entering The Big Dance, Texas Tech will have to figure some things out in a hurry if it wants to avoid an early exit.

Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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