Texas Tech (8-6) versus West Virginia (9-5)
When: Monday, January 6, 6 p.m. (CT)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Spirit Arena
TV: Big 12 Network and ESPN3
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network from Learfield Sports
The Matchup: Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers are only 9-5, but as far as 9-5 teams go, they look pretty stout. West Virginia doesn’t have a “signature” win, but all five of their defeats are “quality” losses. Thus, they’ve lost by five at Virginia Tech, seven to Wisconsin, nine to Missouri, four to Gonzaga, and three to Purdue. WVU is also 1-0 in Big 12 play, having beaten TCU in Ft. Worth.
West Virginia is a guard-oriented team, which could spell trouble for Texas Tech on the defensive end. Guards Eron Harris and Juwan Staten pace the Mountaineers. Harris leads WVU in scoring with 19 points to game. He also shoots 47 percent from three-point range. Staten is like a smaller version of Iowa State’s DeAndre Cain in that he not only scores (16 points per game) and dishes out assists (6.1 per contest), but also rebounds (6.3 per game). That’s an impressive rebounding stat for a 6-foot-1 player. Junior Gary Browne is a good stopper on the perimeter. West Virginia’s top big is 6-foot-9 freshman Devin Williams out of Cincinnati. He averages 10 points and eight rebounds per contest, but shoots only 43 percent from the floor and 54 percent from the free throw line.
As a team, the Mountaineers shoot 40 percent from downtown, and do a great job of valuing the rock, handing out 202 assists while committing only 134 turnovers. In this respect, they resemble Iowa State.
Texas Tech is a team that plays much better at home than on the road, but even at that, the Red Raiders have been unable to secure a home win over a name opponent. Tech had a shot against LSU but Robert Turner’s last-ditch tre rimmed out. Then, in their last outing the Red Raiders erased a 17-point deficit against 13th ranked Iowa State only to fold down the stretch and lose by 11.
Defense, rebounding and inside play have not been problems for the Red Raiders. Tech holds opponents to 42-percent shooting, outrebounds them by four and gets very good production from forwards Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert who average 14 and 13 points per game respectively.
Guard play is another story. The primary trio of Robert Turner, Dusty Hannahs and Toddrick Gotcher combine for only 23 points per contest and shoot a combined 38 percent from the floor. Both Hannahs and Gotcher can get hot from deep, but both struggle to free themselves for good looks on a regular basis. This trio has played a decent floor game, dishing out 85 assists while committing 48 turnovers on the season.
Notable: Jaye Crockett needs 17 points to become the 37th Red Raider to score at least 1,000 points in his Tech career.
Quotable: “We’ve had a couple of them where we lost by a good margin, but when we’re out there we feel like we’re better than the other team and can play with anybody. We’ve gotten a lot better at toning down the mistakes, but we still have room for improvement.” —Tech guard Dusty Hannahs