Sometimes, the offense just ain’t working; that’s when being first in the nation in forced turnovers tends to help.
West Virginia, known for suffocating even the nation’s best with its press, also boasts one of the most lethal attacks in all of college basketball. Head coach Bob Huggins’ squad averages 85.7 points, with five players scoring at least nine points per game. Being able to seamlessly convert turnovers created by their full-court press into transition buckets is why the Mountaineers have won 18 of their 21 games by double-digits and own the No. 9 spot in the AP Poll.
While the defense did its part, forcing 20 turnovers through the first 40 minutes, the Mountaineer offense decided to take a few plays off Saturday—well, 10 minutes—requiring two overtimes to take down 17-10 Texas Tech, who was fresh off upsetting No. 4 Baylor and urgently seeking another win to boost its tournament resumé.
The game was tight the whole way, with West Virginia going into halftime up 33-31. The Mountaineers began to add some cushion around the 10-minute mark, and their lead hovered around seven for the next four minutes. After a Jevon Carter jumper put West Virginia up 60-53 with 5:47 remaining in regulation, the Mountaineers went the next 10:52 without a field goal. With no shots falling, Carter made four free throws in regulation to keep the Raiders from claiming another scalp; all six points scored in the first overtime period came via free throws from Carter, Tarik Phillip, and Elijah Macon.
In fairness, Texas Tech only got a jumper from Aaron Ross and left the rest of the scoring to guard Keenan Evans, who finished with a game-high 28 points. All of his overtime buckets were free throws, but considering he was the reason the game went to overtime in the first place, he gets a pass.
Carter finally broke West Virginia’s field goal drought four seconds into the second overtime period, at which point the Mountaineers remembered they’re actually quite good at offense. They outscored Texas Tech 13-4—the first eight points coming on layups and dunks and the next five on free throws—and escaped with a 83-74 win.