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

  • 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........

    • Jon

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

    • Pghmountaineer

      Richard. That was priceless!

  • 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.

  • cutty77

    Huggs has been at WVU for 6 years Now.First 3 years with players he said he would not recruit.His Record was 80 wins and 30 losses.Then the next 3 years with His Recruits.53 wins and 45 losses.You be The Judge.

  • Robert

    Don't worry wvu fans. It will be fixed.

  • Bob

    In the picture above Aaric is on opposite side of bucket from Kravic. And guess where Dom was, yep, right behind Aaric- 2 bigs on opposite side of bucket. Story of season. Insufficient talent for the bigs. Can't win in the Big 12 with bigs like this.
    Humphreys, a 5th yr.senior at his 3rd school. Act like you been there. Not.
    Coach: Better upgrade the talent level quickly.

  • Jon

    I know that coach Huggins is evaluating this teams multiple deficiencies, lets hope this disaster does not carry into next year. Bring on the new talent.

    • Big Dog

      please enlighten me,, what makes you think that next year will be better,,, give me reasons other than our sophs . are one yr older,,,huggins very disappointed in them this year for not getting better...so what's the optimism

  • big tom

    well , thank God it's over.. huggins has dragged a once proud team into the gutter,,really after beilein's boy left, it only took him 3 seasons to dismantle a final four team
    and that 24 million dollar practice faciliity... let's make a barn out of it,,,the goats and sheep would make better use.
    what a total embarrassment for huggins, wvu and the state of wv. Now maybe he can go to his man cave and sleep it off, and hopefully, decide to retire,,,this is absolutely pathetic.

    • Big Larry

      Big Tom,

      Love your work...

      You and I both know that once you fall into the Abyss, it take years to pull yourself back out. A 13 win season is only acceptable to the Huggins Trolls who still thinks he walks on water.

      To the real true Mountaineer fan like Me, You & William, we have already seen the handwriting on the wall. We know things will never improve until Huggins is sent off into retirement.

      It is what it is...

      • Anthony

        Right, true Mountaineer fans who want to clean house because of one down year. Patience is a virtue.

      • GitmoYoho

        I suppose there are better coaches chomping at the bit to come to WVU?

        And then what will you be saying when they jump ship for better schools and more money?

        • Big Dog

          so we bask in mediocrity,,, that might be good enough for you, but not me,, paying him ten grand a day, does not make me feel any better,,,,so let's not even think of any change, status quo right?

  • mark

    Mercifully, it ends. Please do not attempt to play in some worthless post season tournament. Just let it go and end the suffering.

  • Phil

    Oh my Mountaineers. Like many games this season, they battle back from a huge deficit and blow it at the end on a stupid mistake. Jabarie Hinds is standing in the lane flat footed as a TT player runs right by him for a buzzer beater put back.

  • WILLIAM

    Anytime 'Sweatsuit Higgins' loses "I'm Lovin' it"

    • Ernie

      You are an absolute idiot and not a Mountaineer fan!

    • chris

      Kansas City Officers ....APB..Be on the lookout for a guy wearing a black sweatsuit with a Gold WV logo walking around town harrassing people and drinking green beer..

    • Jethro

      I for one am glad it's over. Very painful to watch. Huggy will right the ship i am sure. Will be glad not to hear from the Marshall 3 anymore. Tired of their terroristic comments about wvu athletics

  • WVWho

    Let me go ahead and give the normal 10 comments:

    Huggs wears black jump suits
    He recruited these kids
    They travel too much
    They can't play
    He's had over 700 wins give him a break
    We're allowed a bad year
    Our team is built for the big east
    Blah
    Blah
    Blah

    • Big Larry

      You left out...

      Huggins took us to the Final Four
      Hall of Fame coach
      Huggins is going to right the ship
      Huggins is going to fix it
      Huggins is Great
      Huggins is one of us
      Huggins is Loyal to West Virginia
      Huggins loves West Virginia
      The players wont listen to Huggins
      This is a bad practice team
      You must be a Marshall fan
      Huggins recruited Devin Ebanks
      Huggins can out coach John Beilein
      Huggins is great

      The list is almost endless..