The No. 12th ranked West Virginia Mountaineers secured a first-round bye in the Big 12 Conference tournament tonight after surviving a couple scares and sweeping the Texas Longhorns to move to 22-6 on the season.
Things got off to a not-so-hot start for the Mountaineers as the Longhorns jumped out to a quick 12-2 lead to start things off in Morgantown, with absolutely nothing working in West Virginia’s favor. Moments later, West Virginia redshirt freshman forward Lamont West would come off the bench and provide the Mountaineers with a much needed spark to turn things around. Two quick three pointers later, and the Lamont West show was underway.
West would go on to finish the game with a career-high 23 points on 7-10 shooting, 6-10 from beyond the arc. Jevon Carter turned in a double-double with 24 points and ten rebounds, and led all scorers.
The Mountaineers would take a 46-32 lead into the half, but the story heading into the locker room was the questions surrounding West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins’ health. Just moments before the first half ended, Huggins fell to his knees coming out of a West Virginia timeout when his ICD fired, sending a jolt to his heart in response to an unusual heart rhythm. Huggins would finish out the half from his stool, and was checked out by his personal doctor during the half. He did return in the second half, and finished the game.
Coming out of the half, the Mountaineers continued with the hot hand and built their lead over the Longhorns to 20 points with just under nine minutes remaining in the game. But as we’ve come to learn this season, no West Virginia lead is safe. The Mountaineers hit their scoring drought just after opening that 71-51 lead and would go four minutes without scoring a point. Texas attempted to chip away at that lead, but would only get it to within 11 points before Jevon Carter hit a jumper to break the scoring drought. West Virginia would finish strong, and an Elijah Macon dunk with just over 2 minutes remaining sealed the deal for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia will face TCU on Saturday in the first of two road games in the state of Texas. That game is scheduled to tip off at 2:00PM EST on ESPN.