It’s been a couple weeks since Bob Huggins and his squad have competed at the WVU Coliseum (16 days for those keeping track at home), but that spell comes to an end Monday night when they host Texas Tech. The contest gets started at 9 p.m. on ESPN.
This clash is one of the most highly-anticipated games of this week’s Big 12 slate after both teams moved up in the AP Top 25. In this week’s poll, WVU moved up three spots to No. 11 after defeating Kansas State on the road, while Texas Tech moved up two despite a pair of postponements for its week.
Before that break, however, the Red Raiders were in the midst of a pretty good stretch of games. Their last contest was a 68-60 loss to No. 2 Baylor in Lubbock on Jan. 16 which broke a three-game win streak that included an upset of fourth-ranked Texas on the road.
Luckily for Texas Tech, their postponements were due to COVID-19 issues at their opponents’ programs, so they have been able to practice in the meantime.
West Virginia is coming off a win in its first contest in two weeks, a wire-to-wire road victory over Kansas State. While the Mountaineers were dominant throughout the majority of that game, Huggins was still quite critical of his team’s offense — but most of their points came off of the 28 turnovers they forced from K-State.
“From a defensive standpoint, I was pleased and our defense was what really got us that lead,” he said.
Miles McBride reprised his role as the team’s leading scorer with 18 points, making 58 percent of his shots in the process. Jalen Bridges and Taz Sherman were also in double figures, with 12 and 10 points respectively.
As a team, however, WVU sunk 44 percent of its field goals in the 68-point effort, 26 of those points coming off Wildcat turnovers.
This advantage won’t be as easy for WVU this time around. Texas Tech leads the Big 12 in turnover margin at +6.47, giving up 11.47 each game. They also force nearly 18 every contest, which will put ball security at a premium for the Mountaineers on the other end.
Big 12 Newcomer of the Year candidate Mac McClung is the marquee Red Raider, leading the team with 16.3 points every contest. He also has deep roots in the Mountain State, as his grandfather Michael is the commissioner of Greenbrier County.
WVU’s Derek Culver will have a tough battle with Marcus Santos-Silva inside and on the glass. While Culver is the sole man in the Big 12 with a double-digit rebounding average, Santos-Silva isn’t far behind at ninth with a 6.3 board per game clip.
This contest gets underway at 9 p.m. on ESPN.