Texas Tech head basketball coach Chris Walker refused to use the differential in foul shots as an excuse for his team’s 66-64 loss to West Virginia on Saturday. Still, the sarcasm during his postgame press conference was impossible to miss when it came to the lack of calls against West Virginia’s Deniz Kilicli inside defensively.
“He ended up with two fouls and had one of those with probably 39 minutes and 30 seconds into the game,” Walker said. “For a guy who’s that physical, he must have done an amazing job of not fouling the entire game.
“So, kudos to him and I’m sure they’re teaching him great defensive techniques that we obviously need to learn from and figure out how a guy that physical can never foul through the course of an entire game.”
But it was Texas Tech’s inability to matchup against Kilicli inside that proved even more costly as the WVU big man finished with a career-high 25 points. In all, the physical nature of West Virginia’s play led to 30 fouls against the Red Raiders (three players fouled out in the process) to just 18 against the Mountaineers. As a result, WVU shot 41 free throws to Texas Tech’s 18.
“Do the math – it’s a huge key,” Walker said. “We’re trying to be physical and we’re trying to play hard, but I won’t blame it on that. We had more than enough opportunities to do what we needed to do. Now, that certainly makes it tougher, but we had more than enough opportunities to make plays and we had a shot at the end to win the game – that’s all you can ask for.”
As for West Virginia, the inability to take advantage those free-throw attempts kept the game close. The Mountaineers went 24-of-41 from the foul line – just 58 percent.
“Kudos to him and I’m sure they’re teaching him great defensive techniques that we obviously need to learn from and figure out how a guy that physical can never foul through the course of an entire game.” — Texas Tech coach Chris Walker on the lack of calls against WVU’s Deniz Kilicli
More on that theme, Texas Tech outscored West Virginia in the paint (24-20), in points off of turnovers (25-13), in second chance points (14-9) and in bench points (22-14). But West Virginia made up for those numbers from the charity stripe and by outrebounding the Red Raiders 39-29.
“Give Coach Huggins a lot of credit for the way his guys fought us,” Walker said. “They got to the foul line and were very physical. I think that was the difference in the game, and I thought there were a couple 50-50 balls that would have made a lot of difference for us.”
Kilicli, meanwhile, and guard Eron Harris made the ultimate difference for the Mountaineers as they combined for 40 of West Virginia’s 66 points – points that proved to be ever critical down the stretch.
“We missed so many free throws,” Harris said. “We have to make our free throws and we made it way more tough than it should have been.”