Texas Tech got a career effort from shooting guard Dusty Hannahs, but the sophomore's 25 points, six assists and utter perfection (7-7) from three-point range were not enough to offset the WVU trio of Juwan Staten, Terry Henderson and Eron Harris. Led by Henderson's career high 28 points, the Mountaineer guard trio poured in 59 points on 58 percent shooting to pace West Virginia to an 87-81 victory. They also contributed nine assists, nine rebounds and three steals. The Red Raiders simply had no defensive answer to the Mountaineer guards.
But with a more potent—and customary—interior game, Tech still could have and probably would have won this game. Unfortunately, interior starters Jaye Crockett, Jordan Tolbert and Dejan Kravic combined for only 28 points and 12 rebounds on a night where WVU, which had been mediocre on the glass, outrebounded the Red Raiders 29-26.
And the reason West Virginia won the battle of the backboard was simple effort. The Mountaineers hustled to the glass and beat Tech to virtually every loose ball that appeared. Following Tech's victory over Baylor earlier in the year, Bear guard Kenny Chery said that the Red Raiders were "hungrier" and "played like it was the last game of their life." Much the same could be said for West Virginia who simply played harder more consistently than Tech.
Still, and despite all of the foregoing, the Red Raiders never lost contact with the Mountaineers and were within striking range almost until the final seconds. And Tech had Hannahs to thank for that fact.
West Virginia came out of the chute smoking hot. The Mountaineers jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead and under the steam of three Eron Harris jumpers and two more by Terry Henderson, had Tech down 17-6 at the 14:47 mark. The Red Raiders were on the ropes. But then Dusty Hannahs took charge and Tech came storming back.
He hit the first of his treys with 11:34 remaining in the half to pull Tech within seven. His next gave Tech it's first lead, 21-20, with 9:50 to go. A third trifecta pushed the lead to 26-20. But that was Tech's high-water mark, as the Mountaineers quickly erased the lead and took a 40-39 edge into halftime.
The second half began almost exactly like the first as WVU game out with guns blazing and Tech could do nothing but seek shelter. West Virginia scored the first seven points of the half to quickly expand its advantage to eight. A Robert Turner layup slowed the bleeding, but the Red Raiders would never again lead, although they closed the gap to two points with 11:33 to play and to four with 30 seconds remaining on three Turner free throws.
Much of West Virginia's offensive success, particularly over the last 15 minutes of play, came on dribble penetration by Staten, and to a lesser extent, Henderson. The Red Raiders simply could not keep this pair away from the tin, and when Staten and Henderson got there, they inevitably converted on a seemingly endless cavalcade of circus shots. Strangely enough, given Tech's obvious inability to defend one-on-one, the Red Raider rarely if ever played zone defense. And Tech has played the zone and played it well at times this season.
Tech will attempt to get back on the winning track on Saturday when they host the surprising Oklahoma Sooners.
Texas Tech travels to Morgantown to take on West Virginia 7 p.m. Wednesday looking for it first…