After a rough couple of week, the West Virginia Mountaineers received a much-needed confidence boost Wednesday night in the Coliseum, defeating the Texas Tech Red Raiders 87-81 for the team's third Big 12 victory.
The Mountaineers managed to kickoff the contest with a hot hand from outside, something that has been missing in recent games. A pair of quick threes from Eron Harris and Terry Henderson put West Virginia in a comfortable position early, with a 6-0 start.
Henderson would capitalize again on the third possession of the contest, driving the baseline for a reverse layup to help start the game on an 8-0 run.
Texas Tech would break the early two-minute drought with five quick points from Jordan Tolbert and Toddrick Gotcher, before another Harris three extended the Mountaineer's advantage yet again.
A 3-3 start for the Mountaineers from three-point land helped West Virginia cruise into the first media timeout with an 11-6 advantage.
The barrage from three-point land would not cease for the Mountaineers exiting the media timeout, as the duo of Harris and Henderson continued to light it up from long range. West Virginia's opening streak from beyond the arc continued with another pair of threes from the guard duo on consecutive possessions, giving the Mountaineers a 17-6 lead with six minutes down in the half.
Nathan Adrian would join in on the fun from long range, helping lead West Virginia to a 20-10 lead at the second media break.
But despite the quick start, the Red Raiders managed to mount a comeback midway through the first half. A pair of quick threes from Gotcher and Dusty Hannahs exiting the media timeout cut Tech's deficit to four, forcing Coach Bob Huggins to call a timeout with 11:00 left in the half.
The timeout provided little help initially for the Mountaineers, as the Red Raiders continued to chip away at that once double-digit West Virginia lead. Texas Tech would cap off its 11-0 run with a three from Hannahs, taking the first lead of the game for Tubby Smith's squad at 21-20.
But the Red Raider onslaught would not stop there. Another five points would be tagged on by Texas Tech before the under 8:00 media timeout, giving them a 26-20 lead at the break.
A nearly six-minute scoreless drought would hang over the heads of West Virginia before a midrange jumper from Juwan Staten halted the bleeding. The score, coupled with a pair of free throws from Gary Browne, brought the Mountaineers back to within two after the hot start.
Four-consecutive free throws from Devin Williams would help the Mountaineers would pull to within a point of the Red Raiders prior to the final media timeout, trailing 31-30.
After giving up the early double-digit lead, the Mountaineers finally managed to pull even once again with the Red Raiders with three minutes left in the half. A driving layup by Browne put two much-needed points on the board for West Virginia, tying the contest at 32 late in the half.
West Virginia would find itself back out front thanks to the long-range efforts of Adrian. The freshman forward hit the Mountaineer's first three pointer in over ten minutes, putting them out front 36-34 with a minute remaining in the half.
A strong performance from the charity stripe extended the Mountaineer's lead to four before a buzzer beating three from Dejan Kravic cut the advantage to a single point. West Virginia entered the locker room at halftime holding a 40-39 advantage.
Exiting the locker room, the Mountaineers once again pulled out front with a hot start to begin the half. A swift 7-0 run, aided by five points from Henderson, put West Virginia ahead 47-39 with just two minutes down in the second half.
The timeout did little to aid Texas Tech initially, as the Mountaineers continued to hit on all cylinders to open up the half. Henderson managed to chip in another five points, giving him 18 total for the night, to help West Virginia hold a 54-47 advantage at the first media timeout.
The gap would stay relatively the same for the both teams in the ensuing three minutes before Texas Tech's Hannahs opened up the long-range game for his squad. Back-to-back circus threes from the Red Raider guard closed the gap slightly, but West Virginia managed to maintain a 61-57 lead with 11:33 left in the contest.
West Virginia would find its way deep in another spurt exiting the timeout on the back of Henderson. The sophomore guard, who led the Mountaineers in scoring Wednesday night, connected with six quick points exiting the break, bumping his total for the night to 24 points and putting the Mountaineers up 67-59.
Henderson would connect with another midrange jumper on the ensuing West Virginia possession, but the basket was sandwiched between a pair of big Texas Tech threes. The run-stopping long range of the Red Raiders pushed the deficit back to four points with just under nine minutes remaining.
But even with the hot shooting, the Mountaineers managed to push the lead forward once again. A driving layup by Staten was quickly followed on the ensuing Texas Tech possession by a Browne frontcourt steal. The junior guard would drive the court for an uncontested layup, putting the Mountaineers up 73-65 with seven minutes left to play.
With just over five minutes to play in the contest, the Mountaineers managed to avenge the early breakdown, returning to a double-digit advantage for the first time since the opening minutes of the contest. A deep corner three from Adrian pushed West Virginia's lead to 13 points, before an off-balanced bank shot from Robert Turner pushed the advantage back down to 10 at the final media timeout.
When the teams returned to the court following the media break, the Red Raiders were presented with a chance to spark one final run. A foul by Staten on Turner during a three-point attempted allowed Texas Tech to claw within seven from the charity stripe with three minutes remaining.
Another three by Hannahs, putting him a perfect 7-7 from behind the arc Wednesday, closed the gap to within six points with 43 seconds remaining, but ultimately, it would not be enough for the legendary Tubby Smith. The Mountaineers managed to hold on in some stressful final seconds to score a much-needed victory in the Coliseum.
Final: West Virginia 87, Texas Tech 81.
The Mountaineers were led in scoring by Terry Henderson, whose career-high 28 points helped lead the team to victory. Henderson was joined atop the box by Juwan Staten, who chipped in 16 points.
West Virginia will return to action this Saturday as they travel to Stillwater to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Tipoff is set for 2pm.