KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Dejan Kravic rebounded Texas Tech’s desperation shot and dropped it into the bucket just ahead of the buzzer, lifting Texas Tech over West Virginia 71-69 in the opening round Wednesday night of the Big 12 tournament.
The Red Raiders (11-19), who lost twice to West Virginia in the regular season, gave up a 14-point lead in the first half but managed to hold on for only their second victory all year away from home.
Texas Tech will meet the Big 12 regular-season champion, No. 7 Kansas (26-5), in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Jaye Crockett’s 18 points led Texas Tech, which had lost 11 of its last 12.
West Virginia (13-19) ended its first season in the Big 12 on a seven-game losing skid, again denying coach Bob Huggins the victory he’s been needing to tie Ray Meyer for 18th on the all-time Division I winning list. Terry Henderson had 12 points for the Mountaineers.
Fighting from behind virtually the entire game, the Mountaineers cut the deficit to 64-63 on Aaric Murray’s 3-pointer and then went up 66-64 when Jabarie Hinds connected from behind the arc. Crockett’s free throw cut the West Virginia lead to 68-67 at the 1:43 mark, but with 62 seconds left, the 6-foot-11 Kravic got inside for a bucket and gave the Raiders a 69-68 lead when he missed the ensuing free throw.
Murray’s bucket was waved off when he was called for traveling, but on the other end, Kravic was called for a foul while fighting for an offensive rebound, sending Deniz Kilicli to the foul line for a one-and-one with 20.1 seconds to go. He made the first, tying the game at 69. But he missed the second and Texas Tech rebounded.
Ty Nurse hit 3 of 4 3-pointers in the opening minutes, but did not attempt another shot the rest of the game and finished with 12 points for Texas Tech. Jordan Tolbert fouled out with 11 points and Kravic totaled 10.
West Virginia got 11 points from Murray and 10 from Kilicli.
Right after Matt Humphrey’s 3-pointer got the Mountaineers to within a single point at 42-41, Humphrey drew a personal foul for taunting — West Virginia’s second in the game — and Nurse sank a pair of free throws, followed by another foul shot by Tolbert and a fast-break bucket by Josh Gray that pushed the lead to 47-41.
With Nurse getting wide-open looks from 3-point range, the Red Raiders scored 16 of the game’s first 20 points and seized a big early lead which reached its highest point at 30-16 when Toddrick Gotcher scored a bucket at the 6:01 mark. A few minutes earlier, West Virginia’s Murray had drawn a personal foul and Nurse converted one free throw.
But then the Mountaineers, thoroughly outplayed to that point, unleashed a 16-5 spree capped by Eron Harris’ basket. Josh Gray’s two free throws sent the Raiders into halftime with a 37-32 edge.
In the final 6 minutes, the Red Raiders managed only one bucket — Crockett’s 3-pointer that made it 35-24.
Nurse was wearing jersey No. 55 because somebody forgot to pack his regular jersey with the number 4.
In the Tech-dominated opening minutes, Nurse nailed two 3-pointers and then got a third straight wide-open look and missed, but Crockett was there for a tip-in for a 9-2 lead.
A moment later, the Mountaineers again left the 6-1 senior open on the wing and he canned it, making him 3 for 4 from beyond the arc and giving the Red Raiders a quick 12-4 lead which went to 14-4 when Crockett canned two foul shots.