It took a lay-up in the closing seconds of the game for 11th-ranked West Virginia to pull off an 88-87 victory over No. 10 Texas Tech in Morgantown on Monday.
While the contest was billed as a defensive battle ahead of tip-off, both teams put on offensive clinics and put up some of the highest point totals of their respective seasons — but the matchup between WVU’s McBride and Texas Tech’s Mac McClung truly brought the fireworks as the duo combined for 54 points.
“We finally made shots,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins.
West Virginia took the early advantage right out of the gate with a strong offensive game. The three pointers were falling, as the Mountaineers sunk 60 percent of their shots from deep in the half.
That propelled WVU to build on its lead, putting it as high as 10 points with around five minutes left.
Texas Tech wasn’t out of it, however. The Red Raiders finished the half on a 13-3 run, closed out by a last-second lay-in from Mac McClung to knot it up at the buzzer.
The momentum shifted in favor of Texas Tech out of halftime. After trading baskets with WVU for the first two minutes, the Red Raiders built their first double-digit lead at the 12:25 mark behind a massive effort from McClung.
After a slow first half for the guard with six points, he flipped the switch in the second and added 24 to breathe life into the Red Raider offense.
Miles McBride woke up the West Virginia offense to respond, leading WVU to storm back and cut into the lead. With 1:36 on the clock, McBride pulled up from three and tied the game back up for the first time since 16:18 remained.
The game remained down to the wire until the final possession, as West Virginia had possession with 16 seconds remaining. Bob Huggins drew it up for McBride, who cane off a screen from Taz Sherman and took it to the rim and finished it to give WVU the lead with six seconds on the clock. McClung attempted to drive it down on the other end for Texas Tech, but he was unsuccessful.
“I give it to Taz for making that play, honestly, I just had to finish it off,” McBride said.
McBride finished with 24 points for the contest, including 19 in the second half. McClung scored 30 for TTU, 24 of which came in the second half.
“He’s a great player but I’m not going to back down from any challenge,” McBride said of McClung. “I give much respect to him and Texas Tech, but I stepped up to the challenge.”
McBride was the clear leader on offense for the Mountaineers as they made 57.7 percent of their field goals, including 63.2 percent of their three-pointers. Six Mountaineers scored in double-digits, including McBride — Jalen Bridges, Sean McNeil (both 13 points), Derek Culver, Jordan McCabe and Taz Sherman (all three scored 10).
“It’s a crazy thing, once it starts going in, it has a tendency to keep on going in,” Huggins said.