MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — Despite a season high 30 points from Mac McClung, No. 10 Texas Tech lost a heartbreaker to No. 11 West Virginia 88-87 Monday.
Mountaineer guard Miles McBride made a running layup with 5.9 seconds left to give WVU a late lead, and McClung’s game-winning attempt at the buzzer rimmed out.
West Virginia (11-4, 4-3 Big 12) shot the ball well from 3-point range all night long, sinking 12 of 19 from behind the arc, including several key shots late.
The Red Raiders (11-5, 4-4 Big 12) led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but could not get enough stops down the stretch to secure the win. McBride alone scored 17 points in the final 7:43.
A McBride 3-pointer tied the game with 1:38 remaining, marking the first time since the 16:01 mark in the second half that Texas Tech did not lead.
McClung answered that with a 3-pointer of his own, but Taz Sherman got a quick layup on the other end to cut TTU’s lead to one point. After a stalled out possession ended in a Terrence Shannon Jr. miss, McBride unleashed his final heroic, the bank shot for the win.
“The plan was to get a stop,” Chris Beard said of the last defensive possession. “We have to get a stop to win. It’s something we work on every single practice. Just couldn’t get it done when we needed it most.”
The Red Raiders conquered what seemed to be their biggest obstacle to a victory going in, holding center Derek Culver to 10 points and nine rebounds. Culver, who combined for 35 rebounds over two games last week, was on the bench as the Mountaineers mounted their late comeback.
The game was tied 39-39 at halftime, and Texas Tech had to make a late first half run to get it there. The Mountaineers got off to a scintillating stat from behind the arc, draining five of their first six 3-pointers and taking a 28-18 lead.
Texas Tech matched the explosive shooting with a more cautious, but equally successful brand of offensive basketball. The Red Raiders turned it over just twice all game, and a high-arcing McClung layup capped off an 8-0 run to close out the first half and tie the game.
That shot led into what would be a mammoth second half for the Georgetown transfer. He scored 24 of his 30 points after the break, including a stretch where he made three 3-pointers in just over two minutes.
“Just like McBride for them, it’s what the best players on teams are supposed to do,” Beard said.
McClung made huge shots, but it wasn’t just the stars that contributed. Players up and down Texas Tech’s roster, even some that rarely see minutes, made pivotal plays.
Chris Beard gave Clarence Nadolny some atypical burn, and Nadolny rewarded him by assisting on two of Texas Tech’s first four baskets. Chibuzo Agbo nailed a big 3-pointer towards the end of the first half and Tyreek Smith had a thunderous dunk early in the second.
However, Bob Huggins’ bunch did not quit, and continued to attack Texas Tech’s defense after falling behind. Six WVU players, including the five starters, finished in double figures, and three made at least three 3-pointers.
According to Beard, some of those looks came off of defensive breakdowns by Texas Tech.
“If you dissect the 12 makes (3-pointers) like we will, some of them, at least a decent percentage, are gonna be our fault,” he said. “On a night where the other team is hot, you just can’t afford that many defensive breakdowns.”
McBride was the hero, but it took shots from Jalen Bridges, Sean McNeil and others to keep West Virginia in the game while Texas Tech’s offense was humming. The Mountaineers finished shooting 57.7 percent from the field.
The Red Raiders had one of their best offensive performances of the season, playing clean basketball and making open shots. But Chris Beard hangs his hat on defense, and he wasn’t pleased with his team surrendering 88 points.
“We gotta find a way to win a game when we score damn near 90 points on the road,” he said after the game.
Despite McClung’s explosive performance and TTU’s crisp offense, that’s what the game came down to. West Virginia dominated offensively down the stretch, making their last 10 shots to storm back and beat Texas Tech.