After having to fight tooth-and-nail to escape Lubbock with a victory earlier in the season, West Virginia flipped the script completely tonight, dominating the Red Raiders 90-68 to move to 23-7 overall and 12-5 in the Big 12.
West Virginia led for all but 52 seconds in this contest, and widened the margin to as many as 27 past the mid-way point of the second half. The win ensures the Mountaineers of no lower than a 3-seed in next week’s Big 12 Championship.
Before the game, Jaysean Paige, Jonathan Holton and Richard Romeo were honored before the Coliseum crowd; walking with their family members out to center court where they were greeted with a hug and a framed jersey from head coach Bob Huggins.
Paige, who has won the hearts of West Virginia fans with his dominance off the bench this season, had a tear in his eye when his name was called before the game.
“It was just a moment thing. I can’t really put it into words. I can’t really explain it. Just going out there for the last time, seeing everybody from your family there. It’s just a big moment,” Paige said.
“It was emotional just thinking about all the times I had, and the practices, and the rough times I’ve had here. You just want to play a good game and leave with some good memories.”
Once the game got started, however, there was no room for emotions to take control. Paige said once he got into the flow of the game, he was able to put all of that aside, and his stat line backs it up. He finished tied for the team lead with 15 points, pulled down five rebounds and dished out five assists in his final home game.
“I feel like I did a pretty good job putting it all away and getting game ready after a while. It was emotional for a minute. Like I said, I feel like I did a good job of putting it away,” Paige said.
For the game, West Virginia took 27 more shots than the Red Raiders, out-rebounded them 40-23, and blew them out of the water with a 34-7 advantage in points off 19 turnovers. The Mountaineers kept good control of the ball themselves, turning it over just nine times.
Sophomore guard Daxter Miles Jr. came out of the gate with guns blazing tonight, making three of his first five 3-point attempts. He finished with five treys, which is a season high for him, and ties his career high mark.
After injuring his hamstring a few weeks ago, Miles said he re-dedicated himself to working on his game. Recently he has been working on a new technique with his jump shot, and the results of that work showed tonight.
“We’ve just got to stay in the gym. When I got injured, when I was hurt for a couple games I really realized I need to get back in the gym, and that’s all I’ve been trying to do,” Miles Jr. said, “It actually felt better tonight. I’m just trying to keep that routine going and stay in the gym.”
West Virginia’s focus now shifts to Saturday’s trip to take on No. 19 Baylor. The Mountaineers can lock up the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 in that game. A loss would leave them hoping for an Oklahoma loss in Fort Worth Saturday in order to hold on to the No. 2 spot.