LUBBOCK, Texas — How did Juwan Staten celebrate No. 14 West Virginia’s 78-67 win at Texas Tech? By spilling his guts.
“I walk in the locker room and Wannie’s throwing up in a trash can,” said coach Bob Huggins, who actually relished the scene that had Staten’s teammates cringing. “I said, ‘Good. That’s what men do. Men go do their job. Don’t let a little cold bother you. Go play. Sweat it out.'”
Behind strong finishes by Staten and Devin Williams, the Mountaineers (14-1, 2-0 Big 12) pulled away from Texas Tech to sweep a two-game swing through the Lonestar State.
Staten, the All-America candidate just 48 hours removed from flu-like symptoms, scored 16 and Williams added 14 — combining for 24 of those during the second half.
“I don’t know how it looked out there but I was pretty worn down,” said Staten, who was 1 of 8 at intermission but shot 5 of 7 afterward. “I just tried to stay positive. I told myself that I work out enough that it will start coming. I just tried not to get timid.”
Off to its winningest start since the 1981-82 season, West Virginia shot 64 percent in the second half, including a torrid 9 of 10 coming out of the break.
The Mountaineers, who have harassed opponents all season with their pressure defense, forced 22 turnovers while committing only eight.
Guard Devaugntah Williams led Texas Tech with 21 points, including a 3-pointer that tied the score at 32. But the Red Raiders (10-5, 0-2) were too riddled by turnovers to keep it close for long.
A 13-2 run capped by Staten’s step-back baseline jumper put West Virginia up 55-40. Texas Tech got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
“Against the press, maybe we got nervous,” admitted Tech’s Williams, who had four turnovers. “I know I got nervous a little.”
Guard Toddrick Gotcher tossed in 14 points, albeit on 2-of-7 shooting, for Texas Tech, which dropped its second straight home game after 10 consecutive wins at the United Supermarkets Arena.
“We haven’t played any team that pressed us like that,” Gotcher said.
Though Tubby Smith tried to prep his team for “Press Virginia” by practicing 7-on-5, the Red Raiders still had guards swallowed up by sideline traps and big men making shaky skip passes.
“When you have these turnovers, it just takes so much out of you,” Smith said. “Those are four- and five-point swings.”
Guards Gary Browne and Daxter Miles Jr. contributed 12 points each for West Virginia, which has nine wins away from campus this season. That’s the most since the 2010 Final Four season, though Huggins still saw too many lapses to feel satisfied.
“I wrote two things on the board at halftime — attitude and intensity,” Huggins said. “When one of those starts to slip a little, we’re not any good. Our ball pressure wasn’t near what it has been. We didn’t have that same kind of bounce in our step.”
NOTES: Texas Tech made only 22 of 37 free throws. “We were attacking. We got to the line 37 times,” G Toddrick Gotcher said. “Maybe if we hit 75 or 80 percent it’s a closer game, it’s a different game.” … West Virginia struggled with 14-of-24 foul shooting, including 3 of 8 by Juwan Staten. “He wasn’t Juwan tonight,” coach Bob Huggins said. “He’s an 80-something percent free-throw shooter. I thought early he forced things, but then he settle down in the second half and played better.” … The Mountaineers were without freshman F Elijah Macon, who sustained bruised ribs in Sunday’s practice. It was his second missed game this season. … West Virginia has won all five regular-season meetings against Texas Tech since joining the Big 12. … The matchup pitted the league’s worst-shooting 3-point teams: West Virginia at 31 percent and Texas Tech at 29 percent. The Mountaineers 4 of 17 from deep, but the Raiders sank 7 of 12, including three by Devin Williams.
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