The Jayhawks await
Under normal circumstances, Texas Tech may have taken some time to celebrate a win like the one it earned Wednesday night, 71-69 against West Virginia in the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament.
But with a game against top-seeded Kansas only 18 hours on the horizon, the Red Raiders knew Wednesday night they had to immediately change gears.
“I feel like the celebration should be done now,” Tech forward Jaye Crockett, who scored a game-high 18 points, said shortly after the game. “We have to focus on the next team. They’re a great team, No. 1 seed. We have to be focused like right now until tomorrow.”
It was just 10 days ago that Kansas routed Tech by 37 points on senior night in Allen Fieldhouse. The Red Raiders left the game bruised but not despondent. After letting a game against Texas slip from its grasp in overtime Saturday, Tech produced one of its best all-around performances of the season Wednesday night.
Walker has told his team it has a chance to be remembered if it can win four games in four days and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. That journey, of course, will be exponentially more difficult against Kansas, but the Red Raiders are thrilled to have given themselves a chance.
“That’s why we’re in the Big 12,” Tech coach Chris Walker said. “That’s why I like coaching in the Big 12. That’s why my players like playing in the Big 12. You’ve got an opportunity to play on national TV and the postseason play versus the No. 1 seed in the league.
“So there’s nothing to run from. There’s something to run to.”
West Virginia’s first Big 12 season a struggle
West Virginia’s first Big 12 season was nothing short of a disappointment.
The Mountaineers finished 13-19 and, including the tournament, lost 13 of 19 league games.
“Certainly should have done a better job than we did,” Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins said. “That’s my fault. I’m not blaming anyone other than me. We should have done a better job.”
Huggins was most perplexed after Wednesday’s game by the team’s inability to get somebody to the rim when Dejan Kravic scored an uncontested tip-in for the game-winner.
“Our credo for as long as I’ve coached has always been get to the ball,” Huggins said. “It’s hard to win when you don’t get to the ball. I think that’s any sports. That’s not just basketball, that’s any sport. And this group, for whatever reason, is the worst that we’ve ever had at getting to the ball.”
Texas Tech’s eight 3-pointers on Wednesday tied a season high. ... Tech’s win against West Virginia was its first in four games. ... Tech shot at least 70 percent from the line (71.4) for the first time in 10 games. ... The Red Raiders turned the ball over 16 times Wednesday, snapping a string of nine straight games with fewer than 15 turnovers. ... Tech has never beat Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament.