Most of the time, seniors (whether they normally start or not) are inserted into the starting lineup on Senior Night. For the 2015-16 Mountaineers, though, coming off the bench may be the better honor. That's why it was no surprise to see seniors Jaysean Paige and Jonathan Holton in their normal roles with the second unit in West Virginia's 90-68 victory on Wednesday night over Texas Tech.
With a starting lineup of Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles, Esa Ahmad, Nathan Adrian, and Elijah Macon, West Virginia jumped out to a 10-5 lead. The Red Raiders stayed within five points most of the half, and with 5:54 until the break a Zach Smith layup cut the West Virginia lead to 24-22.
That's when West Virginia blew the game open. WVU finished the half on a 17-4 run and took a 41-26 lead into the break.
In the midst of that run, Esa Ahmad had this incredible block on Devon Thomas in transition:
Within the first four minutes of the second half, West Virginia had pushed the lead to over twenty points. Texas Tech wouldn't get within fifteen for the rest of the game.
Daxter Miles and Jaysean Paige led the Mountaineers in scoring with 15 each. Miles was 5-10, with all of his shots coming from three. Nathan Adrian continued his hot streak, scoring 13 on 6-8 shooting and added 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Tarik Phillip scored 13 and went 5-6 from the line.
Texas Tech was led by forward Justin Gray with 15. Aaron Ross added 14 off the bench. Full boxscore here.
West Virginia again dominated the glass. They outrebounded Texas Tech 40-23 overall and 19-3 on the offensive glass.
On to the notes:
- Texas Tech shot 56.1% to West Virginia's 50%, but the Mountaineers took TWENTY-SEVEN more shots. That's what happens when you have 16 more offensive rebounds and commit 10 less (19-9) turnovers.
- For the first time all season, Devin Williams wasn't in the starting lineup. He finished the game with 2 points.
- West Virginia covered the 10.5 spread in tonight's game.
- The Mountaineers are now guaranteed at least a tie for second place in the conference.
- Jonathan Holton went into the locker room late in the first half with shoulder pain, but returned in the second half and didn't seem to be bothered by the injury.
- Both Holton and Paige received standing ovations when they were taken out near the end of the game. Walk-on Richard Romeo entered the game and drilled his only shot attempt.
The Mountaineers finish up the regular season on Saturday with a trip to Baylor. A win against the Bears guarantees that West Virginia will be the 2 seed and receive a first round bye in next week's Big 12 tournament. WVU defeated Baylor 80-69 in their first matchup this season. Saturday's game will tip at 2:00 PM and will be televised on ESPN and WatchESPN.