Basketball: Staten’s stellar second half lifts #14 WVU to victory in Lubbock

The West Virginia University Men’s basketball team wrapped up a weekend road trip through the “Lone Star” state on Monday night with a hard fought 78-67 victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders at the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, TX.

Juwan Staten (#3) had a solid return Monday night (16 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast).  (photo via: Hoops Giese)
Juwan Staten (#3) had a solid return Monday night (16 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast). (photo via: Hoops Giese)

WVU’s leading scorer, senior guard Juwan Staten, returned to the line-up yesterday after sitting out Saturday’s game in Fort Worth due to an illness. The 6-1, 190 pound Dayton, OH native struggled throughout the first 20 minutes of last night’s contest as he missed seven of his first eight shots from the field.

While Staten struggled to find his grove, the rest of the team was on point during a six minute and 21 second stretch where in which the Mountaineers outscored the Red Raiders 13-2. Jaysean Paige got the run started at the 15:18 mark when he hit the second of two foul shots following a call against Texas Tech’s Isaiah Manderson.

Two minutes later, Jevon Carter was able to bury a jumper from behind the arc to give the Mountaineers a 14-11 lead at the 13:55 mark of the period. Gary Browne contributed five points during the run, while Devin Williams and Daxter Miles Jr. both hit two-point shots to give the Mountaineers their biggest lead of the game to that point (23-13).

However, the scrappy group from West Texas did not quit as they countered with a quick ten point run of their own. They were able to tie the game at 23 on a Todrick Gotcher three-pointer at the 6:12 mark of the half.

From there both teams traded baskets and possession of the basketball to close the half. Juwan Staten had a chance to stretch WVU’s slim lead up to a difference of six before the half ended, but instead missed the shot.

Gary Browne (#14) driving to the hoop during Monday night's 78-67 victory over Texas Tech (photo via: AP/Charleston Daily Mail)
Gary Browne (#14) driving to the hoop during Monday night’s 78-67 victory over Texas Tech (photo via: AP/Charleston Daily Mail)

After settling for just a three-point lead at the half, the Mountaineers were determined to take control of the contest in the second half. However, they were met with a stiff defiance by the opposition to begin the period as Devaugntah Williams opened the scoring with a three-point jumper to tie the game at 32. After Devin Williams hit a two-point jump shot to take back the lead, Robert Turner tied the game again with a lay-up bucket just 51 seconds into the period.

The Big XII’s preseason Player of the Year began to emerge from the abyss two minutes into the half as he converted the second of two foul shots. He then followed that up by nailing a short range jumper 23 seconds later to give the Mountaineers a 40-36 lead. Staten’s jumper propelled the Mountaineers on a short 8-2 run which in turn put WVU ahead by a score of 46-38.

After Todrick Gotcher ended the brief run with a couple of made free throws, Staten once again put the Mountaineers back on the prowl by hitting a three-pointer at the 12:49 mark to stretch their lead up to a difference of nine points (49-40). From there, the team continued on a 9-0 run to give WVU its biggest lead of the evening (55-40).

The closest the Red Raiders would get to tying the game again was when they drew themselves within eight points of West Virginia’s lead following a couple of made free throws by Zach Smith at the 2:20 mark of the half. Ultimately, Texas Tech would fall to the Mountaineers by eleven points as WVU wins their first two conference games for a second year in a row.

WVU’s first and second half shooting numbers were once again all over the place as they opened the game with a shooting percentage of 35.3%, and then finished strong with a second-half average of 62.1%. Although it did not cost them the game on this night, the Mountaineers were awful in containing Texas Tech’s three-point shooters as the Red Raiders finished the contest 7 of 12 (58.3%) from behind the arc.

Jevon Carter (#2) led the defensive pressure Monday night with a team-high six steals (photo via: AP/Mike Stone)
Jevon Carter (#2) led the defensive pressure Monday night with a team-high six steals (photo via: AP/Mike Stone)

West Virginia once again forced a team into a season-high amount of turnovers in a game as Texas Tech finished the contest with 14. Jevon Carter led the Mountaineers in steals with four while Jonathan Holton and Nathan Adrian both finished with two apiece.
Juwan Staten led the Mountaineers in scoring with 16 points, while also recording four rebounds and an assist. Staten was 5 of 7 from the field in the second half after beginning the game 1 of 8.

Devin Williams finished the night with the most rebounds on the WVU side as he recorded six, while also adding 14 points and an assist to his stat line. Three other Mountaineers reached double-digits in scoring in Monday’s victory including Gary Browne with 12, Daxter Miles Jr. with 12, and Jevon Carter with 11.

On the other side it was freshman guard Devaugntah Williams who stole the show with a game-high 21 points to lead all scorers. The Canton, OH native was stellar in shooting the ball as he finished the game 8 of 11 from the field, and 3 of 4 from three-point range. This was the third time this year Williams scored 21 points in a game; he reached his career-high previously in games against Houston, and the Air Force Academy. Junior guard Toddrick Gotcher was the only other Red Raider to finish with double-digits as he recorded 14 points in a losing effort.

The Mountaineers improve to 14-1 overall, and 2-0 in Big XII conference play with Monday’s win while Texas Tech drops to 10-5 overall, and 0-2 in league play following the defeat. WVU will return to the WVU Coliseum this Saturday night for a top 20 showdown against the 17th ranked Iowa State Cyclones. Tip-off is slated for 7:00PM, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

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