The Dominion Post  

WVU rips depleted Texas Tech, 84-74

Created on:   Mon, Feb 26, 2018   11:44 PM

Last modified:   Mon, Feb 26, 2018   11:44 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Any doubts that Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. would be forced to remember a loss in their final home game were eased early.

Like, on WVU’s third possession of the game.

What began as a thunderous dunk from Sagaba Konate turned into 40-minute bon voyage party for the two WVU seniors, who went out with their 55th and final victory inside a packed WVU Coliseum, this one an 84-74 victory against No. 12 Texas Tech.

A crowd of 14,542 said a proper goodbye to Carter and Miles in a Senior Night ceremony prior to the game, one that brought tears from the two star guards, as well as WVU head coach Bob Huggins.

Carter and Miles showed their appreciation with a wave to the crowd and then by kneeling and kissing the WVU logo.

Moments later, the Mountaineers (22-8, 11-6) were waving goodbye to the depleted and shorthanded Red Raiders (22-8, 10-8), who played without star guard Keenan Evans (toe), as well as guard Justin Gray (head injury) and athletic forward Zach Smith (foot), who was recently cleared to play, but sat this one out.

Konate’s dunk led to a 3-pointer from Miles, who then fed Esa Ahmad with a no-look pass for another dunk.

A 3-pointer from Carter led to a Texas Tech timeout and then another dunk from Ahmad.

Carter wrapped up the 16-0 run with a steal and a run-out lay-up and then scored over freshman Zhaire Smith with his customary stop-and-step-back jumper with 15:31 remaining.

In all, the run included a block by both Konate and Ahmad and a steal from Konate and Carter that all led to something positive.

The Red Raiders, who have lost four straight, did mount one charge, getting as close as 35-28, with 3:07 left in the first half, but another steal and lay-up by Carter and a 3-pointer by James “Beetle” Bolden helped the Mountaineers take charge with a 42-29 lead at the half.

The Red Raiders made a another charge early in the second half, again closing to within seven, but 3-pointers by Bolden and Lamont West again thwarted the challenge. Texas Tech fell to 0-6 all-time in Morgantown.

While it will always be a win celebrated as Carter’s and Miles’ final moment in the Coliseum, the victory also propelled WVU into second place in the Big 12 standings.

Since the two guards arrived at WVU, the Mountaineers have never been lower than fourth in the Big 12 standings — a far cry from where the program was in the league before Carter and Miles’ arrival.

WVU could finish second in the conference and secure the league’s No. 2 seed for the Big 12 tournament with a win at Texas on Saturday.

It would be the third straight season WVU earned the No. 2 seed for the league tournament.

WVU, which now has four wins against top 25-ranked teams this season, must finish with a better conference record than the Red Raiders to earn the No. 2 seed.

Even with both teams splitting the season series, the Red Raiders own the tiebreaker via their victory against Kansas, on Jan. 2.

Carter, who finished with 19 points, seven assists and three rebounds, moved into second place all-time with 195 season assists. He trails only former standout Ron “Fritz” Williams, who dished out 197 during the 1966-’67 season.

Miles added 18 points and four assists and Ahmad recorded his second consecutive double-double with 11 points and
11 rebounds.

Konate finished with 16 points and three blocks. He became only the second WVU player (D’or Fischer had 124 in the 2003-’04 season) to reach 100 blocks in a single season.

Freshman guard Jarrett Culver led the Red Raiders with 26 points and Niem Stevenson added 24.