No. 2 West Virginia (15-2, 4-1) had its 15-game win streak snapped in the hands of No. 8 Texas Tech (15-2, 4-1) by a score of 72-71 on the road in Lubbock Saturday afternoon.
Despite holding a seven-point halftime lead, the Mountaineers allowed the Red Raiders to overcome an 11-point deficit in the second half. Overall saw Texas Tech outscored West Virginia 41-33 in the second half and finished 24-of-28 at the free throw line.
West Virginia senior guard Jevon Carter led the Mountaineers with 28 points and shot 5-of-9 from downtown.
In his much-anticipated return, West Virginia junior forward Esa Ahmad scored 18 points during his season debut.
For the Red Raiders, senior guard Keenan Evans led the team with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
The two teams missed a combined four shots from the field to start things off, but it was West Virginia senior guard Daxter Miles who began the scoring with a three-pointer. Evans committed two early turnovers, but the Mountaineers racked up four quick fouls, two of those came from sophomore Wesley Harris who would then sit on the bench.
Texas Tech would then jump out to an early 6-5 lead, but a 10-0 run from West Virginia that included back-to-back three pointers from Ahmad and Carter gave the Mountaineers a 15-6 lead at the 14:39 mark in the first half.
The Red Raiders though would hold West Virginia scoreless for over four minutes while Evans scored five straight points to cut Texas Tech’s deficit to four points. Sophomore forward Sagaba Konate would end Texas Tech’s 5-0 run with a jump shot, but would later commit his second foul and sit on the bench.
West Virginia would then surrender a 12-2 run to Texas Tech as the Red Raiders took an 18-17 lead with 8:12 remaining until halftime. The Mountaineers then went on an 8-2 run which included Carter’s second three-pointer of the game to go up 26-20.
Texas Tech would again fight its way back and regained the lead, 29-28. Carter would answer the call for West Virginia, sinking back-to-back three-pointers and a fadeaway near the closing seconds of the first half to give the Mountaineers a 38-31 lead heading into the locker room.
Carter finished the first half with 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. West Virginia finished the first half shooting 45 percent from the field and 47 percent from three-point range, but were out rebounded 17-14.
Foul trouble got the best of the Mountaineers in the first half as the Red Raiders made all 13 free throw attempts while West Virginia was just 3-of-5 from the free throw line.
After a Texas Tech free throw, West Virginia extended its lead to 42-32 with a pair of free throws from Konate and a layup from Carter. West Virginia still kept up its pace and led 47-36 with 12:58 left to play.
The Red Raiders would again rally, going on a 9-0 run to come within two points of the Mountaineers. After a pair of free throws from Ahmad, Brandone Francis hit a three-pointer to bring West Virginia’s lead down to one point.
During this span, West Virginia was held without a field goal for over six minutes, but that drought was ended by Harris, who sunk a three-pointer for his first field goal of the game.
West Virginia built its lead back up to five points, but a 10-2 run by Texas Tech helped the Red Raiders regain the lead, 60-57. Harris though would tie the game at 60 with his second three-pointer.
The two teams then exchanged big shots as the game was then tied at 65 with 2:07 left to play. Texas Tech then broke the tie with two free throws from Niem Stevenson, and led 67-66 after Konate made 1-of-2 free throws. Texas Tech then sealed the win with a jumper from Evans and free throws.
The Mountaineers will return to Morgantown Monday to face No. 12 Kansas for a 9 p.m. tipoff. West Virginia has defeated the Kansas each of the last four meetings in Morgantown.