By BETSY BLANEY
LUBBOCK, Texas - West Virginia coach Bob Huggins watched his team score in ways he didn't expect during a 77-61 victory against Texas Tech on Saturday.
West Virginia’s Terry Henderson, Deniz Kilicli and Juwan Staten, from left, defend Texas Tech’s Ty Nurse during thier game Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.
From 3-point range.
Freshman Eron Harris scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half to lead the Mountaineers. He hit 3 of 5 3-pointers in the second half after missing all four tries from beyond the arc in the first half. Terry Henderson, who has been nursing a bad back the last month or so, hit 3 of 4 3-pointers and Gary Browne hit on all three of his 3s.
"Eron has shot it pretty consistent for us and Terry is starting to get well," Huggins said. "Terry we thought all along was our best shooter. Gary Browne hit a big one. Gary hadn't shot the ball very well. I think Gary came in shooting 16 percent from 3 or something like that."
Aaric Murray added 12 points for the Mountaineers (10-11, 3-5), who were 10 of 18 on 3-point attempts.
West Virginia never trailed but the Red Raiders kept it close briefly in the second half.
Ty Nurse scored 14 points for Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6) and Jaye Crockett added 13.
After outrebounding the Red Raiders 10-2 early in the game, West Virginia finished with 24 to Texas Tech's 22.
Turnovers, especially in the second half, hurt the Red Raiders as the Mountaineers got 27 points off Texas Tech's 22 turnovers.
"We just kind of let it slip, turned the ball over too much," Nurse said. "During those times it's crunch time and every possession matters."
West Virginia came into the game hitting only 29 percent on 3-pointers. The Mountaineers made half of their 12 attempts in the first half and were 4 for 6 after the break, with Harris getting three of those.
They averaged five 3s per game coming into Lubbock and doubled that.
The consistency of the Mountaineers' shooting surprised Red Raiders interim coach Chris Walker.
"They made shots," he said. "That's something we didn't anticipate was them making shots because that's something they've struggled with all year."
In the second half, the Mountaineers scored six straight points on a 3-pointer by Harris, a free throw from Juwan Staten and a steal and a dunk by Staten on the ensuing possession to go up 48-38 with about 13 minutes remaining.
Texas Tech kept clawing back, using a 7-3 run that included a layup by Devan Kravic and a field goal by Jordan Tolbert.
"We have our runs just like any team has their runs, but I felt we did a better job focusing in the second half than we have in the past because they were making big runs," Harris said. "They could have easily came back and won that game and took the lead, but we stayed focused."
The two teams didn't make a field goal in the next few minutes but free throws were plentiful - 12 by the two teams. Nurse, who hadn't shot a free throw all year, hit 2 of 6 during that stretch Saturday.
The Mountaineers pulled away for good when Harris and Browne hit 3s, and Dominique Rutledge and Staten each got a field goal during a 10-0 run to make it 69-55, while Texas Tech committed four straight turnovers.
Harris, who more than doubled his scoring average coming into the game (7.4 points), said the team has a chance to build off the win. They host Texas Monday night in Morgantown.
"We just got to take it game by game; winning a game can start a run," Harris said. "Monday we've got to bring it out like we're playing Kansas. Every game you've got to bring it like you're playing Kansas, and that's what I tell my team."
At first it looked like West Virginia was going to run away with it. The Red Raiders didn't get a rebound until more than six minutes had elapsed and had just one field goal and two free throws to the Mountaineers' 13 points.
Then Crockett came off the bench. He got that first rebound, hit a 3, slammed down a dunk and hit two free throws to get the Red Raiders back in it, 16-11. West Virginia responded by going to the 3, getting one each from Kevin Noreen and Browne, and two from Terry Henderson to keep pace with the awakened Red Raiders.
Texas Tech pulled within 34-31 at halftime when Nurse nailed a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left.