KANSAS CITY - Jevon Carter
scored 21 points to power 11th
-ranked West Virginia to a 63-53 victory over 10th
-seeded Texas in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship played here at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The Mountaineers, playing right after TCU’s stunning upset victory over top-ranked Kansas, managed to avoid the upset bug, although they didn’t play particularly well offensively this evening.
“Honestly, we didn’t really pay too much attention to what other teams are doing,” Carter said. “We just take it one game at a time. You can’t play the next game unless you win the current game, so that was just a message to the team - focus on this game and whatever happens after that is going to happen.”
Except for a few brief moments in the first half, the Mountaineers led for almost the entire game behind the stellar outside shooting of Carter, who made seven of 12 overall and five of eight from 3.
Carter scored 16 of his game-high 21 in the first half as West Virginia built its lead to nine at intermission. With the score tied at 29, freshman forward Sagaba Konate
gave the Mountaineers the lead for good on a baby hook shot in the lane, keying a 10-1 run.
added two more on a curl play, then Carter nailed a 3 from the wing and ended the first half scoring for the Mountaineers with a pair of free throws.
WVU built its lead to 13 - its biggest of the game - with a quick flurry to begin the second half. Tarik Phillip
got a step-back shot to go down in the lane, Carter and Daxter Miles Jr.
followed with breakaway baskets and then Konate nearly pulled down the basket with a baseline two-handed stuff to give the Mountaineers a 47-34 advantage.
From here, baskets were few and far between for WVU. The Mountaineers were stuck on 47 for nearly five minutes, allowing Texas to creep to within four with 8:30 remaining.
converted two free throws to make the margin six, 52-46, and then Adrian made two exceptional plays to get the lead back to 11. His pretty feed down in the blocks to Elijah Macon
led to a basket and then he came up with the basketball along the sideline near the WVU bench and he fed Carter for a straightaway 3 at the top of the key.
“Nate did what he does,” Carter said. “He came up with a steal, saved it to me, and noticed I was wide open and I just shot it in.”
“We were just trying to get toward the ball and try and create a couple of turnovers,” Adrian said. “We needed to get the lead back up to double digits and we did that.”
That quick, 12-second spurt effectively put the game away for West Virginia, now 25-7.
Texas (10-22) missed all eight of its field goal attempts over the remaining 5:34 and finished the game converting just two of its last 12.
The Mountaineers were not much better, however, converting one one of their last nine and going the final 4:20 without making a field goal.
“We obviously didn’t play very well today,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We didn’t shoot it very well from the free throw line and didn’t make layups.”
For the game, West Virginia shot 42.6 percent from the field and just 50 percent (10 of 20) from the free throw line.
The Mountaineers were seven of 13 from behind the arc, five of those coming from Carter.
Macon scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Adrian contributed six points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
Adrian was wearing a bag of ice on his left shoulder after the game, but he said his shoulder is fine. He hurt it battling Texas forward Jarrett Allen for a loose ball late in the second half, but he remained in the game and continued to play.
“I hurt it a little bit but I will be alright,” he said.
Andrew Jones led Texas with 13 points. Kendal Yancy came off the bench to score 11.
Tonight’s victory was West Virginia’s third this season against the Longhorns.
The Mountaineers will play Kansas State, which upset Baylor in tonight's second game, at 9 p.m. Friday night.
* West Virginia is now 3-4 in Big 12 Championship games, and 2-2 in conference quarterfinal-round games. Tomorrow's game against Baylor or Kansas State will be the Mountaineers' second straight semifinal round appearance.
* WVU's 42 rebounds tonight were the most recorded in a Big 12 Championship game. The Mountaineers had a three-rebound advantage on the glass.
* West Virginia's 54-percent shooting from 3 was a season-high, and it was also WVU's best 3-point shooting percentage in a Big 12 Championship game.
* The Mountaineers have now won three straight over Texas after having lost six out of the prior seven meetings. Tonight's victory was Bob Huggins' 816th, moving him into a tie with Rollie Massiminio for eighth place on the NCAA's all-time win list.
* West Virginia has won at least 25 games in a season for the third straight year.
* West Virginia ended the first half on a 12-3 run and didn't allow a field goal for nine consecutive minutes from the 7:05 mark of the first half until 18:05 of the second half.