West Virginia posted career-high scoring nights Joe Toussaint and Seth Wilson off the bench to defeat Texas Tech 76-61 and end his 12-game Big 12 Road losing streak Wednesday night at the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas.
Toussaint led all with 22 while Wilson contributed 15 – all from behind the 3-point arc – while the Mountaineers increased their record to 12-8, 2-6.
The Red Raiders are still winless in conference play at 0-8 while their overall record is even at 10-10.
The 3-ball and the free-throw line were West Virginia’s two great weapons tonight. The Mountaineers made 10 from behind the arc and scored 28 at the foul line in a foul-filled bad shootout.
West Virginia shot 37.3% overall, 19 of 51, including 25 misses from 3-point range. Texas Tech shot 38.9% and missed 14 of their 20 triples. The two teams were called for 48 fouls and committed 34 turnovers, 19 of which came from the winning team.
Texas Tech was assessed three technical fouls, resulting in five free throws for West Virginia. Eric Stevenson shot them all, made four, and he finished the night 9 of 11 from the line for 16 points.
West Virginia dominated the glass 44-27, and it was that Jimmy Bell Jr six offensive rebounds that gave the Mountaineers a 33-28 lead at halftime.
Texas Tech started the game with a 10-2 lead and Huggins immediately brought five new players to the bench. KobeJohnsonToussaint, Wilson Mohammed Wague and newbie Josiah Harris.
“We didn’t start very well but we got great help from our bench,” said the West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “Our starters just didn’t have any pop. They’re the guys who played the most minutes and they dragged on a little bit, so I thought we’d go with some young guys and guys who have a little more pop for them.”
Tech’s lead swelled into double digits before West Virginia began to drop out. Toussaint’s step-back 3 drew the Mountaineers to four, 16-12, Wilson and Toussaint 3s reduced the deficit to three and then the momentum changed when Kerwin Walton was assessed a technical foul for hitting the ball on the ground after being called to a staff foul.
Stevenson got four free throws from it and West Virginia had their first lead of the game, 22-21. A Kedrian Johnson 3 made it 25-23, and Tre Mitchells 3 by 31 seconds gave WVU a 33-28 advantage.
West Virginia had an opportunity to add more before the first half horn, but Stevenson’s long gaze from beyond the top of the key hit the back of the rim.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, West Virginia Wilson’s only two field goals were 3s, one of which was a bank shot from the start with 14:07 to go. Luckily, the Red Raiders couldn’t gain much ground due to their shooting difficulties.
The game of the game came with 6:25 left and the Mountaineers led by nine, 59-50. Tech’s Daniel Batcho appeared to have an easy dunk that would have reduced WVU’s lead to seven, but James Okonkwo blocked his attempt with two hands and grabbed the ball out of the air.
“James is really talented,” said Huggins. “He’s a guy who’s outgrown tennis and he has all kinds of potential. It’s just that we keep working with him and he lets us keep working with him. I think he has a great basketball future ahead of him.”
Toussaint was fouled at the other end and took two free throws to give West Virginia their first double-digit lead of the game.
Okonkwo only scored 5 points but grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds and received two blocks and a steal. Stevenson added 10 boards while Bell and Toussaint each snapped six.
West Virginia’s bench bested Texas Tech’s 50-15, and the Mountaineers actually made a 3-point field goal more than 2-point field goals.
“[Texas Tech]was playing very physical and we couldn’t even come close to matching it, and when we did they double-matched us and sometimes triple-matched us, so we wanted to spread them out and take cuts,” explained Huggins. “If they wanted to try and cover the rim we would have to take a couple of jump shots and luckily we did.”
Talented Texas Tech freshman guard Pop Isaacs saw his night ended with 15:24 left when he twisted his ankle after missing a 3-point shot. West Virginias Kedrian Johnson and Emmitt Matthews Jr. also got beat up in tonight’s game and watched the end from the bench.
Kevin Obanor led Texas Tech with 20 points while De’vion Harmon added 14 points.
“It was a great team win,” said Huggins. “We gave away so many games this year and we tried today. You can’t flip it that many times, that often and really just stupid turnovers. They didn’t force us into these sales — we did it ourselves.”
West Virginia has tougher games on the horizon against national ranked teams. The climbers meet 15th– placed Auburn in the last SEC Big 12 Challenge game in the event’s 10-year history at noon on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum.
Then WVU returns to conference play next Wednesday night to face 11th-Ranked TCU with impressive blowout wins in Kansas and against Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs will take on Mississippi State in their Big 12 SEC Challenge game on the road.