MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — From kissing the court during player introductions to rousing fans for the “Country Roads” sendoff two hours later, Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles cherished the trappings of senior night.
No. 20 West Virginia’s guard tandem combined for 39 points during their final game inside the WVU Coliseum, an 84-74 victory over No. 12 Texas Tech.
“I wanted to show these fans love, show this state love, just like they did me,” Carter said after posting 21 points, seven assists and three steals.
Miles dished out four assists and scored 18 points thanks to making 4-of-8 shots from 3. His only failure? Holding back tears during a pregame embrace wth coach Bob Huggins.
“I tried not to cry, but it’s a great night,” Miles said. “It means everything to win any game, but this particular night was special.”
In winning their third straight, the Mountaineers (22-8, 11-6) jetted out to a 16-0 lead and gained sole possession of second place in the Big 12. The No. 2 seed in the conference tournament awaits with a win at Texas in Saturday’s regular-season finale.
Shorthanded Texas Tech (22-8, 10-7) suffered its fourth consecutive loss while missing three of its key seniors — leading scorer Keenan Evans (toe), 29-game starter Justin Gray (concussion) and reserve forward Zach Smith (foot).
“Evans is really, really good,” Huggins said. “That’s the piece that hurts them the most. It would be like us losing JC.”
Carter took part in his 101st career victory, six shy of Da’Sean Butler’s school record.
West Virginia capitalized early by sinking seven consecutive shots — three of those from Carter, highlighted by a 27-foot pull-up bomb in transition. As the sold-out Coliseum shook, Texas Tech went to the under-16 timeout looking shell-shocked.
“You can’t win a Big 12 game when you get down 16-0,” said Red Raiders coach Chris Beard. “It was just too much West Virginia.”
The Mountaineers led by 20 before taking a 42-29 lead into halftime.
West Virginia’s senior honorees had plenty of support. Center Sagaba Konate added 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting and Esa Ahmad produced his second straight double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Jarrett Culver’s 26 points and 12 rebounds paced the Red Raiders while Niem Stevenson scored 24 despite picking up his fourth foul only 28 seconds after halftime.
“If he didn’t get in foul trouble he might have had 35 or 40 tonight,” Beard said. “Credit West Virginia on that — they’re so aggressive they can get you in foul trouble.”
Texas Tech never overcame its 1-of-11 start from the floor. It briefly closed to within seven points in the second half, but WVU answered with 3s by Beetle Bolden and Lamont West and the margin never got within single digits again.
Bolden scored 10 off the bench as the Mountaineers made 10-of-23 from long range.
Carter and Miles came out to a standing ovation with 23 seconds left, but not before Miles was fouled on an epic dunk attempt over 6-foot-10 freshman Malik Indigo.
“I told him if he would’ve made that, it’s top 10 on SportsCenter,” Carter said. “That would’ve been a memory forever.”
In its place, countless other memories sufficed. Some even tugged at their 64-year-old coach.
“I’ve done a lot of senior nights, obviously, but I’ve never seen two seniors go down and kiss the floor like they did and mean it,” Huggins said. “Those two guys love this place, love the program, and will be forever committed to this university and the people of this state, which is an awesome thing.”