West Virginia (9-11) at Texas Tech (9-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 1:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: United Spirit Arena (15,098) -- Lubbock, Texas. Television: Big 12 Network. Home Record: WVU 6-3, TTU 8-6. Away Record: WVU 1-5, TTU 1-3. Neutral Record: WVU 2-3, TTU 0-0. Conference Record: WVU 2-5, TTU 2-5. Series Record: WVU leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Texas Tech Red Raiders are set to entertain the West Virginia Mountaineers in a Big 12 Conference bout at United Spirit Arena.
Both teams are struggling at the moment, and West Virginia enters the matchup with losses in five of its past six outings. The Mountaineers put up a good fight against second-ranked Kansas on Monday night, only to fall in a 61-56 final. The Mountaineers must now turn around and play three of their next four on the road, where they have gone just 1-5 so far this season.
Texas Tech has also lost five of its last six contests, and that includes last Saturday's 73-57 setback at Texas. The Red Raiders have been idle since that loss, and three of their next four games will be played on their home floor. They could really use a win here before No. 18 Kansas State comes to town on Tuesday.
In the only prior meeting between these new conference rivals, WVU claimed a 65-60 victory over the Red Raiders in a Sweet 16 matchup during the 2004-05 season.
The Mountaineers trailed KU by as many as 15 midway through the first half, and they went into the break trailing by eight. WVU opened the second half with a 10-4 spurt and was within two points until KU went on a 7-0 run to stretch its lead to nine with 6:15 to play. As coach Bob Huggins bemoaned after the game, the Mountaineers simply do not have a go-to scorer they can count on when they need a bucket, and that proved costly down the stretch of Monday's game. Aaric Murray scored a team-high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds off the bench, while Juwan Staten scored 14 in the loss. Freshman Eron Harris had a quiet night, finishing with only two points as he shot 0-of-5 from the floor. Harris has started the team's last five games and led WVU in scoring in each of the previous three. On the season, La Salle transfer Aaric Murray paces the squad with 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per tilt, although he is the only double-digit scorer.
The Red Raiders have similar issues on the offensive end of the floor, as only Jaye Crockett averages double figures with 12.7 points and a team-best 7.7 rebounds per game. Crockett has come off the bench for all but one game this season, as TTU's starting-five has often found itself outmatched against teams that like to push the tempo. As a team, the Red Raiders are shooting just 26.5 percent from the perimeter, while opponents are shooting 36 percent. Jordan Tolbert came through with a season-high 18 points and tied a career-high with 13 rebounds last Saturday, but TTU shot just 37 percent as only Dusty Hannahs joined Tolbert in double figures with 10 points. It marked the team's 17th straight loss in Austin and it came against a Longhorns team that had not tasted victory since Dec. 29, which marked their longest losing streak in the Big 12 since 1996-97.
In their last outing, the Mountaineers were able to hang right with the No. 2 team in the country for virtually all of regulation. That should serve as a nice confidence booster here as they try and win on the road for only the second time this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 68, Texas Tech 65
02/02 10:40:51 ET