WVU Expects a Fight Against Red Raiders

Quite a bit has changed since West Virginia and Texas Tech squared off two weeks ago in Lubbock.

As the Mountaineers walked off the court with a three-point overtime victory, West Virginia had just won its second Big 12 game of the season – the first time it won its first two conference games since the 2009-10 season. On the other hand, the Red Raiders dropped their second of a three-game Big 12 losing streak to start conference play.

But since then, the two teams have gone down different paths. WVU is beginning to slip, losing its last three games, while Texas Tech rebounded from a loss to Texas with a 10-point upset over then-No. 12 Baylor and a road win against TCU.

"It's been a testament to them and to the coaching staff," said Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith during this week's Big 12 teleconference. "We have a veteran group – they're juniors and seniors. They practice hard and they've been consistent in that area. We haven't always played as hard and with the intelligence that we should, but I think that maturity and having played in the Big 12 has been a big help."

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins can see the change in this year's Texas Tech team compared to last year's group that finished 11-20 a year ago and sees a program heading in a different direction than it's been in. The Red Raiders have won just four conference road games since 2011, and two of those came against TCU.

"They rebound the ball a lot better. I think they're changing defenses effectively. Tubby's got them moving the ball and playing very well together," Huggins said during the teleconference.

The last time the two teams faced off, the Mountaineers appeared to have the game all but won at times in the second half. West Virginia led by as many as 11 points at one time, but thanks to a big run led by sophomore guard Dusty Hannahs the Red Raiders worked back and took the lead before the Mountaineers forced overtime and went on to win the game in overtime.

"We didn't do a good job on the people we knew they were going to go to," Huggins said. "We've got to do a better job of finding them, we've got to do a better job of guarding."

If nothing else, that stretch gave WVU a quick reminder that there are no days off in the Big 12. No matter what a lead is, it can be gone pretty quickly.

"We can't relax. We've just got to keep our foot on the pedal and continue to do our things we need to do," said freshman forward Devin Williams. "Texas Tech is a good all-around team. They share the ball pretty well with each other. The second time around it's not going to be any easier, but I might have a little bit more of an idea of their tendencies and stuff like that … We've got to come out with some energy as a group."

In order to leave the Coliseum with a victory Wednesday night, WVU will need to continue to shoot the ball well like it had before the last few games.

The Mountaineers are currently shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc. Only four teams in school history have shot the ball better from three-point range than this year's has.

But West Virginia has gone cold in the last two games. In its losses to Texas and Kansas State, the Mountaineers have made just 8-of-20 attempts from three-point range (20 percent).

"Against Texas we played extremely well, but we just didn't shoot the ball very well. With our team, we have to shoot it from the perimeter. In the Kansas State game, they just took it to us," Huggins said. "We've struggled to shoot the ball in the last couple of weeks, and when we don't make perimeter shots, it's hard on us."


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