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February 16, 2013

WVU rebounds with 66-64 win over Texas Tech

After a disappointing loss on the road earlier in the week, a little home-cooking was just what the Mountaineers needed to get back on track.

Led by Deniz Kilicli with 25 points, eight rebounds; and Eron Harris with 15 points, the West Virginia basketball team moved back to .500 in Big 12 Conference play and above .500 overall with a 66-64 home win over Texas Tech.

The game got under way with a strong start from Deniz Kilicli. After struggling throughout many early season game, the senior big man continues to work strong as of late, contributing mightily to a revitalized West Virginia offense.

"The Turk" made his presence known early, following up a missed Gary Browne layup with a monster slam to give the Mountaineers an early 4-2 lead.

But the biggest surprise came through a shooting display from Kilicli. Not even remotely known for his shooting prowess, the senior found himself wide open at the top of the key, before connecting on the midrange jumper.

Kilicli's jump shot gave West Virginia an 8-2 advantage, before Texas Tech's Dusty Hannahs knocked down a corner three, cutting the Mountaineer's advantage to three at the first media timeout.

The Red Raider's run would continue exiting the timeout, as a 10-0 Texas Tech run put the visitors in front for the first time in the contest. An open Jamal Williams three pointers pushed the Red Raiders in front 12-8, after struggling to find the rim in the early part of the contest.

Meanwhile, the Mountaineers struggled to find any significant success on either end of the court. A midrange jumper off the dribble by Jabarie Hinds ended the bleeding for West Virginia, but a bevy of mistakes allowed the Red Raiders to take a 15-10 lead into the timeout.

Terry Henderson would provide the Mountaineers with some offense fireworks in an otherwise dull stretch, hitting an open three pointer to cut the Mountaineer's deficit to one, 15-14.

But turnovers continued to kill the Mountaineers in the bigger picture. After struggling in the T.O. column the past few games, the downturn continued as West Virginia committed seven turnovers in the first nine minutes to help keep the momentum in Tech's favor.

Fortunately for the Mountaineers, however, the Red Raiders struggled to take advantage of the gifts they were providing, going cold from the field for seven minutes after the earlier run. The cold streak allowed the Mountaineers to tie the game at 15 entering the under 8:00 media timeout.

West Virginia would retake the lead exiting the timeout, with Kilicli driving from the corner for an underhanded layup in the paint. The basket allowed the Mountaineers to retake the lead, 17-15.

The lead would continue to grow for the Mountaineers, as Eron Harris continued his recent hot streak. The freshman, who has been the anchor for West Virginia's offense since the new year, connected with an open three pointer, followed shortly thereafter by a driving layup, to give the Mountaineers a 24-17 advantage.

West Virginia would finish up the half with another streaky shooting performance, highlighted by a three pointer from Terry Henderson.

Still, the Red Raiders would keep their deficit in the single digits, going into the locker room down 32-25.

Coming out of the locker room, the Mountaineers would continue to look towards Harris for offensive fire. The freshman, who only notched five points in the first half, came out of the gate strong with a big three pointer to give West Virginia a 35-26 advantage.

But Texas Tech would come roaring back following the first media timeout, going on a 14-6 run sparked by three pointers from Williams and Hannahs, to take a 39-38 lead with just under 14 minutes remaining. The lead would be the Red Raider's first since holding a 15-14 advantage with 9:23 remaining in the first half.

The Mountaineers would not let the Red Raiders get comfortable with that lead, however, countering Texas Tech's streak with an 8-4 run led by Kilicli. "The Turk" showed aggressive post play, scoring all eight points in the stretch to put West Virginia back on top 46-43 with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Both teams continued to exchange blows for the next three minutes, with West Virginia coming out on top thanks to a little luck and different strategy. For the second time in three games, Coach Bob Huggins broke the rarely-used 2-3 zone out of his arsenal in an effort to disrupt the Texas Tech offense. Sans a dunk by Jaye Crockett off blown coverage, the Mountaineers did a decent job holding the Red Raiders at bay in this span.

A pair of layups by Harris and Hinds pushed the Mountaineers back into a four-point lead, maintaining a 53-49 advantage at the under 8:00 media timeout.

Kilicli would provide momentum for the Mountaineers as the game came down to the wire. The senior became the anchor of West Virginia's offense once again, countering many controversial calls by the officials to notch his career high in points; 23 entering the final media timeout. The effort by Kilicli helped pull the Mountaineers to a 59-52 lead with just under four minutes remaining.

But the Red Raiders would not go down without a fight. A pair of late threes by Crockett and Hannahs closed the once double-digit gap to three with only a minute and a half remaining.

A layup by Kilicli put the Mountaineers up by five with 40 seconds remaining, but as he had done for much of the game, Texas Tech's Hannahs put the West Virginia faithful on the edge of their seats, nailing a three pointer to draw within two.

Juwan Staten would attempt to drive for the Mountaineers, with little success. Luckily for West Virginia, however, Texas Tech's last ditch effort to win fell short.

Final score: West Virginia 66, Texas Tech 64.

The Mountaineers will return to action on Monday, as they travel to Manhattan, KS to take on the Kansas State Wildcats. This Big Monday matchup will tipoff at 9pm and air on ESPN.


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