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West Virginia falls to No. 11 Texas Tech

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, 12:54 a.m.
Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver (23) drives against West Virginia guard Jermaine Haley during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in Morgantown, W.Va.
Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver (23) drives against West Virginia guard Jermaine Haley during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in Morgantown, W.Va.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — No. 11 Texas Tech started the Big 12 season on a positive note.

Jarrett Culver led the way.

Culver scored each of his 18 points in the second half, and Texas Tech overcame some early shooting troubles to beat West Virginia, 62-59, in their conference opener Wednesday night.

“We just stuck in there and gritted it out,” Culver said.

Each of Texas Tech’s previous wins came by double digits. The Red Raiders had to scrape and claw to take their first game of the season on an opponent’s court.

“I’m just really happy for our players,” coach Chris Beard said. “The Big 12 is like an 18-round fight, so our objective is just to give ourselves a chance every night, and I thought our guys did.

“I think we won the game with our ball-handling. We only had three turnovers in the second half. We made them turn it over a little bit more than normal, and then we took care of the ball in the second half. I thought that’s where the basketball game was won or lost.”

Matt Mooney added 14 points, and Davide Moretti scored 12 for Texas Tech (12-1, 1-0).

Lamont West led West Virginia (8-5, 0-1) with 22 points, and fellow reserve Derek Culver finished with 12.

Texas Tech struggled scoring and rebounding, and Culver and Tariq Owens each picked up three fouls in the first half. But West Virginia couldn’t take advantage.

With leading scorer Esa Ahmad having an off night and second-leading scorer Sabaga Konate sitting out his fourth straight game with a knee injury, the Mountaineers also couldn’t get much offense going. Ahmad made his only field goal with nine minutes left in the game and finished with six points.

The Mountaineers outrebounded Texas Tech, 41-31, but finished with 22 turnovers. It was the fourth time this season that West Virginia surpassed 20 turnovers.

“We are very charitable,” coach Bob Huggins said. “People struggle, we throw them the ball, make it easier for them.”

Culver came out determined after halftime, converting a pair of layups in the first four minutes as Texas Tech built its largest lead, 33-24.

“He played like a veteran tonight,” Beard said. “That’s what we expect.”

Moretti’s 3-pointer with 2:08 remaining put Texas Tech ahead for good, 55-54. Culver scored six points in the final 41 seconds, and Moretti made one of two free throws with 3.3 seconds left for the final margin.

After Moretti missed the second free throw, West Virginia’s Brandon Knapper tossed up a 3-pointer near midcourt that hit the top of the backboard and bounced away.

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