The weather outside was frightful, but those Buffs playing basketball was delightful inside the First United Bank Center.
West Texas continues to look every bit the No. 4 Division II team in the nation remaining unbeaten in Lone Star Conference action running its winning streak to 10 in a row with home wins over No. 10 Angelo State on Thursday and the University Texas-Permian Basin on Saturday.
WT got the job done in two different ways to complete the sweep and run its 2023-24 home record to 6-1.
In the 88-73 impressive win over Angelo State the Buffs played with a whole bunch of energy and received a career night 25 points from Lubbock Trinity graduate and freshman Kieran Elliott.
Then on Saturday against UTPB, a rather subdued crowd – you could hear the coaches calling out plays and chatting with refs throughout the game – saw the Buffs struggle to shake away from UTPB but produced big in the second half to win.
WT improves to 14-1 overall and owns first place in the LSC at 8-0, the lone remaining unbeaten team in conference.
WT leader and senior Larry Wise, who scored a team-high 17 points in the win over UTPB, said mission accomplished in knocking off two of the upper echelon teams in the LSC.
“We had two we had two tough teams coming in and we knew how big that Angelo team was, two ranked opponents, a lot of emotions going into that game as you can see yeah we started off kind of slow this game (against UTPB),” Wise said. “But we picked it up second-half and I was glad that we were able to come out with two wins.”
West Texas 88, Angelo State 73
Freshman Elliott stole the show and denied a happy homecoming for the return of former Buffs coach Vinay Patel (now the head coach of Angelo State).
ASU entered the game riding high and deserving of the No. 10 ranking sitting 12-1 overall and 7-0 in the LSC.
But the Buffs were pretty much too good in outplaying the Rams throughout the intense game Kieren and festive atmosphere.
The 6-foot-6 Elliott, who played his high school ball at Lubbock Christian, was one rebound shy of a double-double and highly efficient.
He scored his 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor, was 6-of-7 from the free throw line and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
Elliott was joined in double figures scoring by the Buffs big three seniors _ Wise (12 points), Zach Toussaint (11) and Ryland Holt (10) – and caught the attention of ASU coach Patel.
Angelo State closed within three of the Buffs at 48-45 with 15:41 to play Kevon Godwin 3-pointer, but WT answered with a 9-2 run pushing the lead to 57-47. Angelo never threatened late.
“Kieran Elliott played really well,” Patel said. “He did not play like a freshman today and has settled in nicely. … I thought they did a great job in transition and we did a poor job getting back. Even after we scored, they beat us down floor multiple times. They played this game like a national championship type game, and I didn’t think we did. Give credit to their staff for that. They came out focused and intense and hit us in the mouth early and we were in recovery mode the rest of the game.”
Angelo was led by Godwin’s 21 points.
Said WT coach Tom Brown: “I thought we had a lot of guys step up in this one.
“Kieran can do those things. You have DJ Basey (6-foot-10) and Trey Farrer (6-9) for Angelo and those guys are good and big and Kieran went right at them. I thought he held his own and more against them.”
West Texas 77, UTBP 69
The energy level in The FUB and on the floor was totally different in this one on Saturday compared to Thursday. As in not much.
The Buffs started slow going back and forth with a UTPB team that deserves more respect than it gets now at 10-5 and 5-4.
WT once again used a run in the second half to take control of things.
UTPB closed within 41-38 of the Buffs with 18 minutes to play on DJ Armstrong free throw.
Elliott, who was held scoreless in the first half and looking like a freshman, caught fire scoring seven straight points, sophomore Ahamed Mohammed followed with a 3-pointer, Holt scored a bucket, then 6-7 freshman Noah Pagotto continued his solid game with a basket and the Buffs led 57-47 with 14:47 to play.
The lead was never in doubt the final 14 minutes.
Wise played his usual excellent game scoring when necessary giving WT a lift with his calming influence.
Wise led the way for the Buffs with 17 points, followed by Holt’s 14, Pagotto a strong 13, Mohammed and Elliott each 13, while Toussaint had nine but two quick back-to-back threes sparking WT.
“Permian is a very good team at 10-4 and didn’t play well in Lubbock (on Thursday),” WT coach Brown said. “When you have a good team like that they have something to prove. I thought they executed well … sometimes when you play a really good team like Angelo on Thursday and then maybe Permian doesn’t have the national ranking, well, we played a little bit slow. We didn’t have our best game but we still were able to beat a really good team.”
UTPB coach Kyle Tolin only played seven and handed out heavy minutes to his five starters playing between 33 and 38 minutes of the 40-minute game.
UTPB was led by junior forward Maison Adeleye with 17 points, followed by guard DJ Armstrong and strong 6-8 post Lathaniel Bastian each with 15 points, while senior guard Keyon Craddock chipped in 12.
“Oh, it was great weekend for us,” Wise said.
West Texas returns to action Thursday hitting the road to gorgeous Silver City, N.M. taking on Western New Mexico. … Future Buff Jailyn Sledge was in attendance for Saturday’s game against UTPB. Sledge is a senior star at Tascosa High and recently committed to West Texas. … Pretty cool walking into The FUB and seeing a banner honoring No. 1 David Chavlovich on the wall along side former Buffs greats Joe Fortenberry, Reggie Ramey and Maurice Cheeks. “Chav” is the all-time leading scorer in Buffs history and a current assistant coach at WT. Crazy thing is the banner was put up without a ceremony. I hope that’s in the future at a Buffs pregame or halftime. … WT finished the two games making 18 3-pointers, nine each game. Seven different Buffs contributed to the 18 threes.