Texas Tech guard Mac McClung scored 30 points, but it turns out he needed 32 to defeat 11th-ranked West Virginia here at the WVU Coliseum Monday night.
McClung’s game-winning shot attempt with two seconds left hit the back of the rim as the Mountaineers won an 88-87 thriller.
Two weeks ago, fourth-ranked Texas defeated West Virginia 72-70 on a last-second shot from a similar spot on the floor.
Tonight, it was Deuce McBride’s short jumper with six seconds remaining that lifted West Virginia to its 11th win of the season and pushed its record back over .500 in Big 12 play at 4-3.
Just as it did 19 days ago when it rallied from 18 points down in the second half at Oklahoma State, West Virginia made a furious rally late in the game with its best shooters on the floor with backup forward Gabe Osabuohien to do the screening, passing and rebounding.
“We kind of flattened it out and let Deuce play,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins explained. “After he made a shot or two and we knew they were going to run to him because that’s what they do – they gang guard – then we had our roll guy down-screen for Sean (McNeil). Sean was out there wide open and fortunately he made some shots.”
Texas Tech (11-5, 4-4) led 75-63 with 7:11 to go when West Virginia went to its Cardiac Kids.
McBride answered a McClung jumper to make it a 10-point game. A Kedrian Johnson 3 with 6:25 left got the margin to seven, and then a minute later three McBride free throws made it a four-point game.
Tech, which last played nine days ago, scored four straight to push its lead back to eight, 79-71, but McBride answered with a big 3 from beyond the top of the key and Taz Sherman added a pair of free throws to make it a one-possession game with 4:23 left.
Klyer Edwards for Texas Tech, and McNeil for West Virginia, traded 3s and the margin remained at 3 until McBride’s 3 tied the game at 84 with 1:36 remaining.
Texas Tech retook the lead on McClung’s open 3 from the top of the key 26 seconds later and Sherman answered with a driving layup to pull West Virginia to within one with 50 seconds to go.
Sherman rebounded Terrance Shannon’s miss and the Mountaineers called timeout with 16.5 seconds remaining to set up a final shot.
Two more timeouts, one each by West Virginia and Texas Tech, were taken for additional strategy. Huggins eventually chose to clear out the right side of the floor for McBride, who hit a heavily contested shot near the basket.
“(McBride’s shot) is exactly what we wanted,” Huggins noted. “Actually, it was (associate head coach) Larry (Harrison’s) idea. I’d like to take credit because it’s a really good play but I can’t. We had those guys on the other side and we were going to clear the (right) side to let Deuce penetrate to the basket.
“The whole idea was penetrate to the basket and if they wall up and don’t let him there, we were going to bring Taz around behind and hopefully we could throw it back to him, or, we put (Jalen Bridges) in the corner if Deuce couldn’t turn the corner and the throw the ball to him.”
After McBride’s basket, McClung raced to the other end of the floor and got off a contested shot from the right corner falling away from the basket just ahead of the horn.
At the outset, West Virginia appeared to be in control of the game leading 36-26, but the Red Raiders held the Mountaineers scoreless over the remaining 3:48 to tie the game at 39 at the break.
A six-minute spurt early in the second half when McBride was on the bench with three fouls built Texas Tech’s lead to 12. Most of it came on transition baskets as a result of West Virginia turnovers. The Red Raiders outscored the Mountaineers 25-0 off WVU’s 12 turnovers, and had a 44-28 advantage in paint scoring.
“We threw the ball to them,” Huggins said. “They scored off our turnovers, they scored off of offensive rebounds and we turn around and go down to the other end and miss free throws. That’s a recipe to get behind.”
West Virginia made up for it by shooting a sizzling 12-of-19 from 3-point distance and making its last eight free throws when it had its better foul shooters on the floor. Overall, WVU was just 16-of-27 from the line for the game.
“We could have very easily had the game in hand had we made some free throws,” Huggins said.
McBride, in addition to his 24 points, grabbed seven rebounds, handed out six assists and made a steal.
Freshman forward Jalen Bridges contributed 13 points while Culver, Sherman and Jordan McCabe finished with 10 points each.
Shannon was the only other Texas Tech player to reach double figures with 15.
“We were very fortunate tonight,” Huggins said.
Texas Tech has won only once in Morgantown in 2019 against one of Huggins’ poorest Mountaineer teams. Tonight’s victory was West Virginia’s eighth over Texas Tech at the Coliseum against that one loss.
It was also Huggins’ 20th win against a top 10 team while at WVU.
A limited number of fans will get an opportunity to see West Virginia for the first time this year at the Coliseum this Saturday when the Mountaineers take on Florida in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge.