MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Twice West Virginia forward Esa Ahmad caught a pass on the left wing, directly in front of the Texas Tech bench. Both times he barreled toward the basket, colliding with defenders who tried in vain to draw charges.
This was the assertive player Bob Huggins wanted to see.
Ahmad reached the foul line eight times in the Mountaineers’ 84-74 victory, more evidence he’s taking to heart the recent imploring from his coach.
“I’m driving whenever I can,” Ahmad said. “Just trying to be more active.”
The junior forward shot only 3-of-12 from the floor — the product of missing several point-blank shots — yet drew positive reviews from Huggins after an 11-point, 11-rebound game.
“That’s going to happen when he gives us effort,” Huggins said.
After grabbing double-digit rebounds only once in his first 80 college games, Ahmad has done it back-to-back against Baylor and Texas Tech.
“Huggs has been preaching to me to stay on the glass,” he said. “It comes down to just wanting it more, just crashing. Trying to get every ball that comes off the rim, even if they’re out of my area.”
Carter digs ‘Country Roads’
Having never heard “Country Roads” before arriving at WVU — “not even once,” Jevon Carter insisted — he’ll leave college with an appreciation for the state’s unofficial anthem.
“I like that song,” the point guard interjected after joining the student section for the postgame sing-along.
Asked how long it took him to learn the words, Carter admitted, “I only know the chorus.”
Notes, numbers, etc.
West Virginia enjoyed a clean game, turning the ball over a season-low five times, and even those weren’t the product of sloppy ballhandling. Lamont West was called for a moving screen in the lane, and Logan Routt was whistled for traveling while wrestling for a rebound.
Texas Tech committed 13 turnovers and dropped to 0-6 in the WVU Coliseum.
The conference’s top foul-shooting team at 77 percent, West Virginia made only 16-of-27. Daxter Miles’ streak of 18 consecutive made free throws ended in the second half with three straight misses.
The Mountaineers drew a record 209,164 fans to its 17 men’s basketball home games this season (eclipsing the overall mark of 204,742 set a year ago). The per-game average of 12,304 fans ranked second-most in school history behind the 12,377 in 2009-10.
WVU wrapped up its home schedule with a 14-3 mark.
“They scored 84 but Coach (Huggins) was very kind at the end of the game. He could’ve scored 100 tonight from where I was sitting.” — Red Raiders coach Chris Beard
“It’s whatever, it’s a record. It means nothing now. I just want to go out and do something I haven’t done, win a national championship.” — Carter on recently becoming the first major-conference player with 1,600 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 300 steals.
Around the Big 12
Kansas 80, Texas 70: In Lawrence, the Jayhawks guaranteed themselves the outright Big 12 title by beating Texas, which played without injured 7-footer Mo Bamba.
Bill Self’s team had already clinched a share of its NCAA-record 14th consecutive league crown. “I think they all feel great,” Self said. “If you don’t have to share it, you shouldn’t.”