WVSports – WVU fends off Tigers 80-77 in Big 12-SEC Challenge
Morgantown hosted the Big 12-SEC Challenge between Auburn and West Virginia and it was the home team that would come away victorious, winning 80-77.
West Virginia jumped out to an early 10-3 lead through the first five minutes of play.
Erik Stevenson was fouled on the fast break to stop the drive, but didn’t come up empty handed, hitting a deep three ball over his defender to finish the possession.
Another three from Stevenson gave the Mountaineers a 23-12 lead with slightly under 10 remaining.
A steal on the defensive end and layup from Joe Toussaint increased the WVU lead to its largest of the night at 12, with six to play in the first.
With the shot clock expiring and two defenders draped all over him, Stevenson hit his third three of the half, increasing the lead to 15.
On what looked like the last possession of the game, Joe Toussaint came up with a huge hustle play to tip the ball to Emmett Matthews, who then found Okonkwo for the and-1 on a sweet pass to get West Virginia up by 16.
The half came to a close with WVU ahead 45-29.
It was all Erik Stevenson in the first half, scoring 18 points on 6-9 shooting, including 3-4 from three point land.
The Mountaineers got the lead up to 17 to start the half but gave it up immediately, allowing Auburn to creep within single digits. A three by Stevenson after five minutes of play got the lead back up to 12.
Two minutes later, it was down to seven, but Toussaint found Bell under the hoop for the and-1 to extend it to ten.
At the ten minute mark, Auburn was within five and a fast break had it looking like it it was about to be a one possession game, but Erik Stevenson took a charge to get the ball back. Toussaint then hit a three at the other end. Auburn countered with a three of their own, but Stevenson then hit one from deep as well on the next possession.
With six minutes to go, James Okonkwo came up with a huge block, but Auburn finished the possession at the free throw line to get back within four. A minute later, the Mountaineers only led by one.
Stevenson came up huge once again with a three ball to fend off the Tigers. Then, with two minutes remaining and only up by one, did it again, this time fading away in the corner.
A missed free throw with under a minute to go allowed Auburn to hit a three to get within three. They then got a steal on the inbounds, but were unable to score.
The game came down to the final seconds due to missed free throws by WVU, but they were able to seal the win, 80-77. Erik Stevenson finished the game with a season high 31 points, on 7/10 from three.
The Mountaineers will next face a tough TCU team who’s last loss came in Morgantown, on Tuesday, January 31.