Evans and Carter. Two of the nation’s top point guards. Texas Tech and West Virginia. Each without a Big 12 Tournament Championship win. West Virginia is now one step closer.
West Virginia has emerged as one of the Big 12’s strongest teams this 17-18 season and knew that a repeat performance of Thursday night against Baylor was crucial to success against the Red Raiders, who notably had the fortunate return of Keenan Evans, Justin Gray, and Zach Smith. Texas Tech not only welcomed the return of star guard Evans but also welcomed their first Big 12 Tournament Semifinal appearance since 2005. With this new-found confidence by the Red Raiders and a repeat performance hope by the Mountaineers, both teams came into the game confident a win was in their future.
Both teams started slowly in the first quarter of the game, until Texas Tech advance 12-6, putting a small lead between them and the Mountaineers with 13 minutes left. Texas Tech was finding the holes in the West Virginia defense and was reaping the benefits. James “Beetle” Bolden was taken out for the Mountaineers as he struggled with defense, but when put back in, “Beetle” ignited a 9-0 run that put West Virginia on top. Texas Tech, however, came back to make the game closer than the Mountaineers wanted, as WVU missed 6 of their next 7 shots. With 5:00 left, WVU led 23-20, and by going on a 10-0 run over Texas. Similar to Thursday night, West Virginia fell behind early and fought their way back, as they led the Red Raiders 27-26 at half-time. With an evenly played first half and scarily even statistical similarities, the second half presented an opportunity for one team to take control of the game. However, the game remained close, as each team struggled to get in any consistent offensive rhythm. Jevon Carter of WVU started to warm up during this half, making three 3’s to propel the Mountaineers to a 44-39 lead with 11:55 left. With these three shots, Carter led the way for West Virginia with 14 points. At this point in the game, Daxter Miles reached 19 points and five three throws, similar to Thursday’s game, when he reached a total of 19 points. Between both Carter and Daxter, there was a total of 33 points between them at that time in the half. In a little more than a minute, Texas Tech went on an 8-0 run, tying it up 56-56. The game remained close, until West Virginia determined it was their game to win, and took a small, yet commanding win of 66-63.
The West Virginia Mountaineers were led by Daxter Miles Jr. who topped his Thursday game stats, with 22 points. For the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Jarrett Culver led with 16 points. Career-wise, Zach Smith of Texas reached 1,000 career points on a dunk in the first half.
Despite Texas’ best attempts, they fell short to the Mountaineers who will reach the Big 12 Tournament Final for their third consecutive year.
Be sure to catch the Mountaineers and the Jayhawks play at 6 PM ET!