West Virginia hangs on, beats Texas 60-58
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — With the emergence of freshman Eron Harris and the grit of Deniz Kilicli, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins refuses to believe the Mountaineers have run out of time to make the NCAA tournament.
West Virginia squandered an 11-point lead, only to clamp down on Texas down the stretch and beat the Longhorns 60-58 Monday night.
West Virginia (11-11, 4-5 Big 12) swept the season series from Texas and has won two straight for the first time since late December.
Still, it will take a sizzling finish for the Mountaineers to continue their streak of going to the NCAA tournament in every season under their sixth-year coach. Five of West Virginia's nine remaining regular-season games are on the road.
"You just have to win games," Huggins said. "The formula is pretty simple."
Behind a starting lineup of three freshmen and two sophomores, Texas might see its streak of 14 straight NCAA appearances end under coach Rick Barnes unless things turn around quickly. The Longhorns (10-12, 2-7) have now lost seven times in nine games.
"I know that they're a young group of guys, but tonight I thought it was the first time, from an internal mindset, that they were a team," Barnes said. "And I'm really proud of the way our guys stayed together."
Kilicli and Jabarie Hinds scored 14 points apiece for the Mountaineers.
It marked only the second time this season that the 6-foot-9 Kilicli had team scoring honors.
"I think he was terrific and so much more active," Huggins said. "He does a great job of sealing people and we don't do a great job of getting him the ball. I think the last two games were the best two all-around games that Deniz has played. He has had a lot of energy."
Harris finished with 13 points for West Virginia. He has been a pleasant surprise for the Mountaineers, scoring in double figures in six of seven games since entering the starting lineup.
Huggins said Harris has "made a lot of progress." And Harris said the message from Huggins has been positive despite a season of many disappointments and close losses in league play.