KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dejan Kravic’s tip-in with 0.4 seconds left carried Texas Tech to a 71-69 win over West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament opener Wednesday night.

“You always see that on TV but you never expect it to happen to you,” said Kravic, who jumped around at midcourt with his teammates and then did more dancing and yelling in the locker room. “We let all our emotions out in there.”

The scene was far more somber around the eighth-seeded Mountaineers (13-19), who overcame a 14-point first-half deficit to lead on several occasions in the second half. Yet West Virginia still managed to lose its seventh straight game, and it did so against a ninth-seeded Texas Tech team it swept during the regular season.

Terry Henderson paced West Virginia with 12 points, while Aaric Murray had 11 points, eight rebounds and blocked a shot on Tech’s final possession. But the swatted ball caromed toward the corner where Texas Tech’s Jamal Williams missed a 3-point try leading to Kravic’s tip-in.

“I just saw the ball coming toward me,” said Kravic, who finished with 10 points. “I thought time had already expired.”

Instead there was enough time left for Texas Tech’s 14th offensive rebound, which Kravic tapped in.

“As much time as we spend on rebounding the basketball and blocking out, you would think that at a time like that maybe you try to get the ball,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins.

“As much time as we spend on rebounding the basketball and blocking out, you would think that at a time like that maybe you try to get the ball.” — West Virginia coach Bob Huggins

Jaye Crockett had 18 points for Texas Tech (11-19), and Ty Nurse scored 12 after entering the day averaging 2.3 per game. (Nurse scored 14 in Texas Tech’s 77-61 loss to West Virginia in Lubbock on Feb. 2.) Jordan Tolbert added 11 points before fouling out with 2:26 left.

The Red Raiders advanced to face top-seeded Kansas on Thursday afternoon, while the Mountaineers likely will pack up their gear and call it a season — though there is a miniscule chance WVU might buy its way into the CBI, a third-tier tourney behind the NIT in the postseason pecking order.

The Red Raiders were 8-of-12 from 3-point range (including three by Nurse) and shot 46 percent overall. WVU made 51 percent but was outrebounded 31-28 by Texas Tech, including seven by Kravic.

Deniz Kilicli scored 10 points for West Virginia, a far cry from the 25 he scored against Texas Tech a month ago in Morgantown. The senior forward was fouled by Kravic and sank the tying free throw with 20.1 seconds left, but his second attempt lipped out, giving Tech the chance to hold for the final shot of regulation.

“Before it came to that (last possession), I should have made the free throw,” Kilicli said. “It went in and out. I shot it just like the first one, but it went in and out. We could have still been playing.”

WVU was saddled by another slow start, making two baskets and committing four turnovers on its first 12 possessions and falling behind 16-4. Texas Tech eventually led 30-16 before the Mountaineers closed to within 37-32 at the half.

MEMORIES OF MORGANTOWN

Crockett said the Red Raiders’ confidence was bolstered by a 66-64 loss at WVU on Feb. 16.

“All we were thinking about is the close one we had up there in West Virginia, and we came up short,” Crockett said. “And this time we kept fighting. We knew we had to keep fighting to beat these guys.”

In that Morgantown matchup, Tech point guard Josh Gray settled for a long 3-pointer on the final possession. Coach Chris Walker said he made sure his team was more aggressive this time.

“We end up being the beneficiary of a putback, which is rare for us.” — Coach Chris Walker, whose Texas Tech team was last in the Big 12 in rebounding margin this season

“Well, (the plan) wasn’t for Josh Gray to shoot a 3 again, that’s for sure,” Walker said. “We wanted him to drive the ball, drive the ball. They did a good job defending us, but we tried to make a play and we ended up getting a basket out of it.”

Gray’s driving, twisting shot was blocked by Murray, leading to the frantic final sequence.

“We ended up being the beneficiary of a putback, which is rare for us,” Walker said.

Indeed, Texas Tech entered the game last in the Big 12 in rebounding margin at minus-2.7 per game and eighth out of 10 teams in offensive rebounding percentage.

Kilicli, who sat out the final 13 seconds after Tech called timeout, watched the final possession transpire and described the rebounding breakdown.

“The guy (Gray) got blocked, so there’s a loose ball, but it’s OK though, because we switched,” Kilicli said. “And then the rotation guy didn’t go to the big man. I mean (Kravic) was wide open — there was nobody around him.”

UNLIKELY HERO

The 6-foot-11 Kravic was born in Bosnia & Herzegovina before his family moved to Canada, where he was a three-year starter at his Ontario high school before playing two seasons at York University. He transferred to Texas Tech and sat out last season under NCAA rules.

The junior scored 22 points against against North Carolina A&T and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds versus TCU, but has he ever experienced a game-deciding moment like the one that sank WVU?

“I don’t think so,” he said.

After Jordan Tolbert picked up his fifth foul with two minutes left — hacking Kilicli to prevent an easy layup — Kravic said the Red Raiders picked up the slack.

“We had to step it up as a team when J.T. came out — that’s our main player,” he said. “I mean, with him out, we’re not as good as a team. So we all had to step up. It was a team effort.”

 

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Comments

  • Big Dog

    just a bunch of huggins internet trolls.

  • Jesse

    well, I knew better than to read this junk, just a bunch of EER haten internet "TROLLS".

  • wenkev

    Ok. All you idiots and whiners out there calling for Luck to fire Huggins, what is your solution? Who should WVU get? Brad Stevens from Butler? Shaka Smart from VCU? Yeah I am sure they would want to leave Indianapolis or Richmond for Morgantown. I mean, who wouldn't with all the great supporters like Big Tom, William, Big Larry and the others who would throw them under the bus the first time they had it rough or if they gained weight or God forbid, they wore anything that didn't meet approval. Hey, I got it! Why don't you guys leave and not come back?

    • TBone

      Bruce Pearl is available I hear. lol.

  • Greg

    How many people who come on here and talk about how much "we" pay Huggs or any other coach is actually a member of the MAC? For all you who complain but don't know what MAC stands for its Mountaineer Athletic Club. I've been a member for most of my adult life. My contribution each year actually goes toward their salaries. So for those of you who complain but don't want to pay, pony up! Then you have a right. But until then, find some other tangent to go off on.

  • richard

    ooooops. made....darn it.

  • richard

    hey jon, that was meant to be a joke....you see, tongue in cheek means i was joking....lmao.......and i knew it was dayton....i just forgot when i was writing.....i'm not a person who acts like they know sports and they don't......people make honest mistakes.....ok dayton , dayton, dayton, dayton dayton dayton.....there, are you happ??? lmao ....what an idiot

  • cutty77

    Teams that Lose alot,do these things.I don't care about the Tech.Fouls called.At the end of the Game Miles misses the back end of a one an one,Dennis Does it twice,not once.Thats hard to do,make the first one,then miss the 2nd.This was a Bad Karma Team the entire year.I don't remember them getting one Break,i'm sure there was one,but can't my finger on it.

  • Big Dog

    at this huge salary, i expect more,and donors should expect more,,, look at the trend, let the trend be your guide.
    the people drinking the kool-aid, do you really think huggie can sign a 5 star who will put us back on the map? If there is one outthere, what makes you think he's coming to wvu
    i want to think the glass is half full, but i have absolutely no reason to believe it is
    Murray , noreen, staten , hinds, browne , miles etc are as good as they can get,,, we need all of them to leave. and we need to reexamine huggins contract, and put in some production clauses.. this trend looks really really bad,,, we get beat by a 9 seed and we came home,, sad.

  • Dave

    Kind of glad it's over. A little sad it ended this way. But Kansas would have stomped us anyway. It was a tough year to be a Mountaineer.

  • Hoffy

    Reckon we should be glad someone shot this sick horse and put it out of our misery for the year. Some folks close to the program need to take a seriously dadgum good look at themselves and get themselves and this thing right.

  • tw eagle

    how about WVU handing higgins a fishing pole instead of a paycheck . .. .then invest the money saved in getting butler and mazullo some plastic surgery and a name change . . .

    an invite to the nit would be a good fit now . .. .round up that loss total to 20 . . .

  • Greg

    Oh yeah, but if you were to bring Catlett back, all you people whose lives revolve around Huggs' black sweatsuit had better be prepared for the return the leather sport coat! Now that will really give you something to talk about while you're complaining.

  • richard

    this is a good team. they could have went to the final four with a few breaks. and is there a better center in the country than a. murray? and what a point guard staten turned out to be. i can't wait to see his improvement next year and see him play and get along with his team mates again! you can tell staten is a team player!! i'm glad huggins will keep both murray and staten since they were what they were advertised!! i have no idea why lasalle and xavier didnt try their best to keep them on their roster!! hold on while i get my tongue out of my cheek........

    • Pghmountaineer

      Richard. That was priceless!

    • Jon

      If we expect our team to have basketball IQ, then we expect you to have commenting IQ. That was Dayton, not Xavier.

  • Greg

    This team has no (make that HAD) no basketball IQ whatsoever. Coaches can't pause the action with a remote control and run out onto the court to put kids in the proper position to make plays. At some point a kid's instincts has to takeover and no matter how much fans want to blame Huggs Instincts just can't be coached. Mercifully this season has come to an end and let's look forward to the next. Most of this bunch won't be back next year anyhow. BTW, anyone want Gale Catlett back at the helm? Didn't think so.

  • pghmountaineer

    Just be thankful it's over. But remember, according to O.Luck football is driving the money and the entire sports programs at WVU. So don't look for any real changes with basketball because according to Luck it's not that important. His words, not mine.