By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The West Virginia men’s basketball team apparently feels as if it rekindled NCAA Tournament hopes in last Saturday’s 77-61 victory at Texas Tech.
Even Coach Bob Huggins has not given up hope with the thought. “Obviously, we’re a long way away now,” he said after that game. “But if we can get on a run here, we’ve got a chance.”
In making their record 10-11 overall and 3-5 in the Big 12, the Mountaineers uncorked by far their hottest all-around shooting performance of this season.
They shot a sizzling 65.0 percent from the field (13 of 20) in the second half and 56.5 percent (26 of 46) for the game.
In 3-point goaling, West Virginia shot 50.0 percent in the first half (6 of 12) and 55.6 percent for the game (10 of 18).
WVU also was sharp from the foul line, making 86.7 percent of its free throws in the second half (13 of 15) and 75.0 percent for the game (15 of 20).
Making all of those figures even more flattering is the fact that West Virginia was the worst shooting team in the Big 12 (39.4 percent) going into that contest.
Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6 Big 12) shot 47.6 percent for the game (20 of 42), 44.4 percent from 3-point range (4 of 9) and 81.0 percent from the foul line (17 of 21 free throws).
The Mountaineers had a 24-22 edge in rebounds and dished out 11 assists. They also had 10 steals and blocked five shots.
But both teams had difficulties holding on to the ball. WVU committed 18 turnovers, 12 in the first half, and the Red Raiders had 22 turnovers.
Huggins said he continues to be baffled by some of the things his team does at times to allow opponents to work their way back into contention when behind.
But having four scorers in double figures certainly was a major factor in this triumph. Freshman guard Eron Harris scored a game-high of 18 points. Junior center Aaric Murray had 12 points, and sophomore guards Gary Browne and Juwan Staten tallied 11 points each.
Two other Mountaineers, senior Deniz Kilicli and sophomore guard Aaron Brown, barely missed double digits by scoring nine points each.
It was West Virginia’s best scoring balance since a 94-69 win over VMI at the Coliseum on Nov. 22. That was the fifth game of the 2012-13 campaign, and seven WVU scorers finished in double figures.
Staten led the way with 18 points. The other six were Kilicli 13, Murray 13, Browne 11, Keaton Miles 11, Terry Heaton 10 and Harris 10.
NCAA Tournament hopes might become a reality if the Mountaineers continue to put together multiple double-digit scorers and win more games.