LUBBOCK, Texas —Eron Harris scored 18 points, all but three in the second half, helping West Virginia pull out a sorely needed 77-61 win at Texas Tech.
Harris and Gray Browne hit back-to-back 3s to spark a late 10-0 run after Texas Tech had drawn within 59-55. WVU finished 10-of-18 from 3-point range, a season-best 55 percent. The Mountaineers’ 56-percent overall shooting from the floor also was a season-high.
“We were knocking them down with confidence,” said Harris. “That could be the start of something big.”
Browne scored 11 points, going 3-of-3 from 3-point range after making only 7-of-44 (15 percent) all season.
“One thing they did, they made shots — and that’s something we didn’t anticipate, because it’s something they struggled with all year,” said Texas Tech coach Chris Walker.
WVU (10-11, 3-5 Big 12) got bench assistance from Aaric Murray, who added 12 points, and Terry Henderson, who scored nine — all on 3-pointers. Deniz Kilicli also had nine points, to go along with two rebounds and two blocked shots, but he went to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 9:59 left.
Murray was whistled for his fourth foul with 6:59 to go.
Each team committed 23 fouls in a rugged game that also featured 40 turnovers. Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6) committed 22 of those turnovers, including four straight during a crucial stretch as WVU stretched the lead to 69-55.
“That’s been our Achilles’ heel all year, and it’s the Achilles’ heel of most young teams,” Walker said. “We’re trying to run plays to take advantage of their switching defense, and we throw the ball away. We call timeout and we throw the ball away again.”
Ty Nurse, making his first start this season for Texas Tech, finished with 14 points, including 6-of-6 from the line. But he couldn’t fathom how quickly the game turned down the stretch.
“When the game was over we were kind of shocked,” Nurse said. “We kind of let it slip, turned the ball over too much. During those times it’s crunch time, so every possession matters a lot.”
Red Raiders point guard Josh Gray and forward Jordan Tolbert chipped in 10 points each.
West Virginia, which bolted out to a 16-4 lead, shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening half, but committed 12 turnovers, as did Texas Tech. The Red Raiders shot 47 percent and trailed only 34-31 after Nurse hit a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds before the half.
The Mountaineers held a 24-22 edge in rebounding, getting four each from Harris, Kevin Noreen and Jabarie Hinds.
Next up for WVU is a Big Monday home date against Texas.
HUGGINS PASSES HASKINS
Saturday’s victory was No. 720 for Huggins, moving him past Don Haskins into 19th place on the NCAA’s career list. Next up is Ray Meyer at 724 victories.
As you’d expect, West Virginia’s perimeter shooting took Texas Tech by surprise.
“On the scouting report, we weren’t afraid of them hitting 3s,” said Red Raiders guard Ty Nurse. “Then they came out and hit a couple and so we had to change our defense a little bit. That’s what happens in basketball though, you have to adjust.”
The adjustments didn’t work, however. The Mountaineers were 6-of-12 from 3-point range at the half and 4-of-6 in the final 20 minutes.
Coincidentally, Harris missed all four of his first-half 3s before making 3-of-9 in the second half.
Forward Kevin Noreen was 1-of-2 from deep, the miss coming on a hurried launch off an inbounds pass after he mistakenly thought the shot-clock was about to expire. The shot-clock originally showed 2 seconds when the ball was knocked out of bounds, but the refs ruled a kick on a Texas Tech defender and reset the clock to 15 seconds.In Noreen’s defense, even his teammates were yelling for him to shoot.