Extended stay: West Virginia makes unpredictable run in Big 12 tournament

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The front desk at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown was a busy place following West Virginia’s 79-74 upset of Texas Tech on Thursday, as a number of West Virginia fans extended their stay in the city longer than expected.

Among them was former West Virginia hoops standout Warren Baker, who traveled in with the Mountaineers on Monday and wa s originally scheduled to depart Thursday morning.

“I’ve talked with several people from West Virginia who had the same story,” Baker said. “There were lots of people who had to extend their stays, myself included.”

As the No. 10 seed, West Virginia entered the tournament with a 0.23 percent chance to win it, according to teamrankings.com.

The Mountaineers first altered travel plans with their 72-71 victory against Oklahoma on Wednesday.

The upset over the second-seeded Red Raiders improved West Virginia’s chances to 4.6 percent heading into Friday’s semifinal game against Kansas.

“It’s been a fantastic run and they’ve been a lot of fun to watch,” said Baker, who finished his WVU career with 1,556 points and 1,070 rebounds. “You can see how they’ve really come together as a team.”

Iowa State looks to stay perfect

With a 63-59 victory, Iowa State advanced to the Big 12 title game behind the strength of 21 points from Marial Shayok, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining.

“The ball felt good when it left my hand,” Shayok said. “I had my space, but I had all the confidence in the world.”

Iowa State has advanced to the Big 12 title game in four of the past six seasons and are 4-0 in the championship game.

“There is no pressure,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “We’re going to prepare tonight and prepare in the morning. There is no pressure in that. Our guys don’t know it [the 4-0 record], and unless you tell them, I’m not going to tell them.”

Texas in or out?

Prior to its 65-57 loss against Kansas on Thursday, Texas was projected by ESPN Bracketology as being one of the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament.

After the loss, Texas fell to 16-16 on the season and was listed as one of the first four teams to be left out of the NCAA’s.

No team with a .500 record has ever earned an at-large bid, but the Longhorns are still on the bubble, because of some big wins early in the season and the fact the Longhorns have played the fifth-toughest schedule in the country.

“Look at our games, early on in the season; North Carolina, Purdue, Michigan State,” Texas forward Dylan Osetkowski said. “Kansas at home, at Kansas, every game in the Big 12. I think the Big 12 is one of the toughest conferences in the nation.”

“Like I said, I think we’ve done enough to put ourselves in a position to play in March and go win games in March. I think you get to a one-game situation, teams don’t want to see us.”

Texas owns win against North Carolina, Purdue, Kansas and Kansas State. What looked like at one time to be bad losses against Radford and Virginia Commonwealth came against teams who combined for 44 wins this season.

“We don’t get that opportunity to speak directly to [the NCAA Selection Committee],” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “If you’re going to evaluate teams based on the quality of their wins we definitely, I think, deserve strong consideration. But, you know, for us, our focus is on our guys and helping them process this game and understand what we can learn from it.”

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