WVU Basketball

Seniors lead WVU to Big 12 Championship

By Chris Jackson

 

With a Big 12 Championship appearance on the line, West Virginia’s two seniors stepped up when it mattered most.

 

Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. combined for 39 points and nine made threes to help No. 3 seed West Virginia edge No. 2 seed Texas Tech, 66-63, and earn a third straight Big 12 Championship appearance when the Mountaineers face top-seeded Kansas at 5 p.m. CT Saturday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

 

“We’re the two guys they were looking for at the beginning of the season to lead this team, and us clicking together at the right time at the end of the season is big for us,” Carter said.

 

Carter --- who dealt with foul trouble in the first half and had just five points, three turnovers and two assists at halftime --- delivered one of the biggest sequences of the game. His shots were falling, which gave the Mountaineers life after they missed four consecutive shots.

 

He went on a nine-point stretch all by himself, hitting three straight three-pointers, with the final of the three marking his 14th point of the night to put WVU up 44-39.

 

In total, Carter would finish with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks, following up a quarterfinals game against Baylor on Thursday that saw him record a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists to go alongside his six steals.

 

“I felt like I wasn’t helping my team offensively or defensively,” Carter said. “My teammates do a good job of finding me when I’m open, and it’s my job to just knock it in.”

 

Miles registered a game-high 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting, connecting on five of his three-point attempts. In two Big 12 Tournament games this season, he has a combined 41 points and 10 made threes.

 

And Miles would make one of the biggest plays at the end, too. Texas Tech star senior point guard Keenan Evans had the ball in his hands in the waning moments as WVU harbored a 65-63 lead.

 

Evans, with Carter draped all over him playing tight defense, missed a three. Zhaire Smith got the offensive rebound, but fired a pass to Miles, who got the steal on the turnover and was fouled moments later.

 

Miles would go to the free throw line, making one of two to make it 66-63 WVU with six seconds remaining.

 

Niem Stevenson would heave up a last-second shot at the buzzer, but it hit the front of the rim to end the game.

 

“It’s tremendous,” said WVU redshirt sophomore guard James “Beetle” Bolden. “That’s a big plus for us. He’s been on and off all season, and he’s picked it up the last 10 games honestly. We needed that and we knew that he was going to bring that to the table this year, and he’s coming on for us.”

 

Perhaps one of the most important stretches came with Carter on the bench, though.

 

Carter picked up his second foul with 12:36 remaining in the first half and was replaced by Bolden. WVU was trailing 15-8 at the time.

 

Bolden would score four points, record a steal and block a shot all in the span of 49 seconds, contributing to a 7-0 run for WVU even the score up at 15-15.

 

“Without that, we probably wouldn’t have came out on top,” said WVU sophomore forward Wesley Harris.

 

Carter and Miles now have one last shot at bringing a Big 12 title to Morgantown. They have played in the championship games each of the past two years, but fell to Kansas in 2016 and Iowa State in 2017.

 

There is only one more shot at being the last team standing in Kansas City.

 

“We want to go out with a bang,” Carter said. “It’s our last year. If we win tomorrow, we can hang a banner. It’s everything e dreamed of. We’re going to give it our all tomorrow night and we’re going to see what happens.”


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