West Virginia was able to fight through two Texas Tech comebacks – one in each half – to defeat the Red Raiders 66-64 on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.
The Mountaineers were led by Kilicli who had 25 points and eight rebounds.
Kilicli took advantage of his size throughout the game, dominating the paint en route to a career-high scoring performance. He scored 22 points last season vs. Providence.
“It happens,” Kilicli said. “They didn’t guard me the way other teams have guarded me. I did whatever was I was doing. My instincts were kicking in.”
Player of the Game
Besides Kilicli, freshman guard Eron Harris was his consistent self. He scored 15 points.
TT pulled up for a three that would’ve won the Red Raiders a game as the clock expired, but it hit the rim and fell short to preserve the victory for the Mountaineers.
“We won. That’s all that matters. I was a little disappointed that it was as close as it was seeing as we beat them by a lot more the first time around,” Harris said. “We just have to move on and fix what we didn’t do well.”
In total, the Mountaineers shot 48.7 percent from the field and held the Red Raiders to just 41.1 percent shooting.
There were 48 total fouls in the game and 59 foul shots. Three Texas Tech players fouled out.
“The truth of the matter is, we were 24-for-41 from the foul line and turned it over 18 times, and still found a way to win,” said head coach Bob Huggins.
WVU improved to 13-12 on the season and 6-6 in Big 12 Conference play. That sits the Mountaineers squarely in seventh place in the conference in front of Texas, Texas Tech and TCU – all teams West Virginia has beaten twice this year.
“We wouldn’t play the games if we didn’t think we had a shot at the NCAA tournament,” Kilicli said. “We just have to win a lot. We can do that. That’s not the issue with our team.”
The Mountaineers, despite taking a seven-point lead into the locker room, couldn’t keep it in the second half. Texas Tech would fight back to regain the lead at 39-38 on a three from guard Dusty Hannahs. That capped off a 13-3 run for the Red Raiders.
WVU jumped right back in front on free throws from Kilicli. Those two free throws started off a chain reaction for Kilicli, as he hit eight straight points for the Mountaineers to put the team up 46-43. He hit the 20-point mark with more than 10 minutes to play.
From there, West Virginia just had to stay in front of the Red Raiders, and they were able to do that for the final 10 minutes.
After an early lead, Texas Tech went up 12-8 in the middle of the first half. WVU would be forced to fight back and used a 22-10 run to end the half to take a 32-25 lead.
West Virginia outrebounded the Red Raiders 24-to-12 in the first half. It had as many offensive rebounds as Texas Tech had defensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Guard Juwan Staten helped pull down six boards.
The key to the first half was turnovers. The two teams combined for 19 turnovers – 11 of those by the Mountaineers. The two teams combined to score 21 points off those turnovers in the first half.
Texas Tech was led by Hannahs, who had 12 points. Guard Jamal Williams had 11 points and Tolbert had 10 points.