By Ryan Decker, Originally written for West Virginia Illustrated
MORGANTOWN – No. 9 West Virginia (21-6, 9-5) has struggled putting unranked teams away at times this season, and Texas Tech (17-10, 5-9) falls into that category.
WVU had to force the game into overtime into the two teams’ meeting earlier this year in Lubbock, and allowed the Red Raiders to pull off the comeback in regulation Satuday inside the Coliseum.
Season-high scoring from Jevon Carter and Elijah Macon, allowed WVU to force a second overtime and kept the Mountaineers in the lead during it.
Carter’s 24 points and Macon’s double-double performance carried West Virginia in its 83-74 victory in double overtime.
“I’m angry. I’m not drained, I’m angry,” a dejected WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “I’m angry that that happened to us. That’s why I gave them Tuesday and Wednesday off, and we came back Thursday and that’s exactly what I told them.”
West Virginia’s offense, which was brought to life with the help of its defense midway through the second, was silent late in the half, making just one shot from the floor over the final six minutes.
Texas Tech converted a pair of layups late in the game to pull within two points, and Keenan Evans knocked down a turnaround jumper with 18 seconds remaining to pull within one.
Evans then buried a contested 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
WVU’s offense remained ice cold in the first overtime, only managing six points from the free throw line, keeping the game deadlocked at 70 heading into the second OT.
Carter scored on a layup in the initial seconds of the second five-minute period, and Macon added two points on a shot inside soon after. A putback dunk by Daxter Miles Jr. put the game out of reach for good.
“It just went our way tonight,” Carter said. “We’ve been in this position all year. All our losses have been close; close games. We were losing them early, now it’s just time to for us to start pulling them out.”
Midway through the opening half, Carter made back-to-back 3 pointers, one on each side of the court, to push the WVU lead back out to five points, 17-12.
Chris Beard’s team did a much better job holding onto the ball during the remainder of the first half, going over 11 minutes without committing a turnover. By doing so, it once again allowed the Red Raiders to take a one-point lead.
Texas Tech led by as many as five points late in the first half, but Carter’s third three-pointer of the afternoon brought the Mountaineers back to within two points, 33-31, at halftime.
Liem Stevenson made a trio of threes of his own for TTU and was also perfect from the free throw line. He led all scorers with 17 first-half points as the two teams headed into the locker room.
Stevenson failed to score in the second half.
Texas Tech continued its hot shooting in the second half, making four of its first five shots from the floor, including a heavily contested 3 pointer by Aaron Ross that put the Red Raiders up by four.
Press Virginia was relatively quiet for the first 25 minutes of the game, but began to ramp up the pressure during the middle stage of the second half. WVU forced turnovers on consecutive possessions, bringing the Mountaineer fans to their feet, and themselves back into the lead, 46-45 with just under 13 minutes remaining.
This began fueling what became a 14-4 run over a six-minute span, during which Texas Tech committed three turnovers, and was only able to attempt four shots.
Six consecutive points by Macon capped off the run, and pushing West Virginia’s lead out to 56-49.
Macon tallied 17 points and a team-high 12 rebounds in the game.
“I prayed, I talked to my mom a lot before the game,” Macon said. “I just had crazy energy today. I don’t know where it came from. It just came out of nowhere. I was just playing hard.”
Behind Macon’s double-digit rebound performance, the Mountaineers dominated the boards, winning the battle by 13 overall. Macon himself grabbed four of the team’s total 16 offensive rebounds.
It’s a quick turnaround for West Virginia, which is back in action inside the Coliseum Monday against Texas.