Nurse makes first start,
performs well in loss
Texas Tech senior guard Ty Nurse started 24 of 31 games for the Red Raiders last year, but he hadn’t started one this season until Saturday.
Taking the place of Dusty Hannahs — who played 13 scoreless minutes but was hampered by a sore knee, according to coach Chris Walker — Nurse made the most of his opportunity by scoring a season-high 14 points. He made 2 of 3 shots from 3-point range after making just 4 of 31 to start the season. He also went 6 of 6 from the free-throw line, a place he hadn’t visited once this season before Saturday.
Nurse said his confidence wasn’t shaken despite the poor shooting results, but he said it was nice to see some attempts start falling.
“Just getting to the line and seeing the ball go in, that will help you get into your rhythm,” Nurse said. “Then a couple threes went down.”
Walker has lauded Nurse’s intangibles this season — he’s smart, composed and steady on the court and usually handles the ball well — but he has implored the senior to look for his shot more. A career 90 percent free-throw shooter, Tech can find some near-automatic points if Nurse can continue to find trips to the line like he did Saturday.
“I’m asking him to be a shooter,” Walker said. “You’ve got Josh (Gray) and Daylen (Robinson) who aren’t shooting the ball very well, so you need them to be distributors. I’m asking them to look for Ty, and Ty’s not comfortable with that role. You have to a guy out there who can make that shot. There has to be a fear of that. Otherwise they are going to clog in inside and we can’t throw it inside, which is what we really want to do.”
In another lineup tweak, Walker gave forward Kader Tapsoba his first career start in an effort to “jump start Dejan (Kravic) a little bit.”
Tapsoba played only three minutes while Kravic recorded eight points and five rebounds off the bench.
Slow start hurts Tech
Texas Tech coach Chris Walker had warned his team all week that West Virginia would “try to punch you in the mouth” during the opening minutes of the game.
The Mountaineers did just that, opening the game on a 16-4 run during the first eight minutes. Tech couldn’t match the intensity of the Mountaineers early. It took more than six minutes for the Red Raiders to secure their first rebound. (They ended up losing the battle on the boards by just two, 24-22.)
“Coach (Walker) got on us in the first media and told us that it was all about rebounding and toughness and that’s the only way we would win the game,” guard Ty Nurse said. “So once we buckled down we made it a game, but a loss in the end.”
Jaye Crockett sparked the Red Raiders with a personal 7-0 run, and by halftime Tech was down just three, 34-31. Still, Tech had to exhaust a lot of energy just to get within striking distance because of the lackluster start, and it trailed from start to finish.
“I would just say they have to come out prepared to play,” Walker said. “I told them all week long that West Virginia was going to hit them in the mouth and they are going to come at you. I don’t think our guys were nervous at all. I think it’s just the way the ball bounced, and then they got after it a little bit and they kind of rattled us a little bit, but we got back into it.”
Rare strong shooting
lifts West Virginia
Shooting had not been an especially strong aspect of West Virginia’s game so far this season.
The Mountaineers had entered Saturday’s clash with Texas Tech ranked last in field-goal percentage and ahead of only the Red Raiders in 3-point shooting percentage.
But West Virginia shot season highs from the floor (56.5 percent) and from 3-point range (55.6) on Saturday.
The Mountaineers hit 10 of 18 shots from the perimeter, including 3 of 3 from guard Gary Browne, who had made just 7 of 44 3-point attempts entering Saturday’s game.
“On the scouting report we weren’t afraid of them hitting threes,” Tech guard Ty Nurse said. “Then they came out and hit a couple, and so we had to change our defense a little bit. That’s what happens in basketball though, you have to adjust.”
West Virginia freshman Terry Henderson, battling a sore back, played only 10 minutes but hit three 3-pointers during that stretch, and Eron Harris hit all three of his long-range shots in the second half.
Compiled by Nick Kosmider