|Points Per Game||82.8||80.1|
|Field Goal %||43.3||48.5|
|Rebounds Per Game||40.2||38.9|
|Assists Per Game||16.3||15.8|
|Blocks Per Game||5.4||4.4|
|Steals Per Game||10.3||8.9|
Tip-Off: 2pm est
Location: Lubbock, Texas United Supermarket Arena
The #2 West Virginia Mountaineers (15-1) travel to Lubbock, Texas to take on the #8 Texas Tech Red Raiders (14-2) for the top spot in the Big XII Conference.
The Mountaineers are 10-2 all-time versus the Red Raiders and won 7 of the last 8.
The last time these two teams met in Lubbock, the Red Raiders won in overtime on a game winning three from Niem Stevenson. The story line of the game was poor free throw shooting by the Mountaineers (54.2%).
Texas Tech Head coach Chris Beard is in his second season in Lubbock. He is 32-16 at Texas Tech and 9-13 in the Big XII.
The Red Raiders have had a phenomenal start to the season, going 4-1 over ranked opponents. (#20 Northwestern, #22 Nevada, #18 Baylor, @ #10 Kansas).
Texas Tech is coming off a loss to Oklahoma, 75-65, in Norman on Tuesday night. Starting Senior Forward Zach Smith (6’8” 220-lbs) did not play against the Sooners due to an injury and is still day to day. Smith led all scorers (15) last year in the upset win over the seventh ranked Mountaineers.
Senior guard Keenan Evans (6’3” 190-lbs) has scored in double figures in all but one of his games. He is the fuel that drives this Red Raiders team leading the team in scoring (17.3) and assists (3.4).
Freshman guard Zaire Smith (6’5” 195-lbs) is second on the team in scoring (10.4) and rebounding (4.4). He can finish around the rim and has a good mid-range jumper, shooting 61.2% from the field.
Senior guard Niem Stevenson (6’5” 205-lbs) averages 7.8 points per game and 3.1 rebounds.
Senior guard Justin Gray (6’6” 210-lbs) averages 5.6 points per game and 3.6 rebounds.
Junior Center Norense Odiase (6’9” 245-lbs) leads the team in rebounds (5.5) and averages 4.7 points per game.
Texas Tech will get a lot of minutes from their bench playing up to ten players. With Zach Smith day to day, they may be down to nine.
Freshman guard Jarrett Culver (6’5” 190-lbs) will provide an offensive spark off the bench, averaging 10.3 points per game and 3.7 rebounds. He can also get hot from three-point range.
Senior forward Tommy Hamilton (6’11” 250lbs) is averaging 6.3 points per game and 3.9 rebounds.
Freshman guard David Moretti (6’3” 165-lbs) is another player that can come off the bench and provide some offense, especially from behind the arc. He averages 5.4 points per game.
Junior guard Brandone Francis (6’5” 205-lbs) averages 4.8 points per game.
Texas Tech has the best scoring defense (60.2) and defensive field goal percentage (37.5), both are the best in the Big XII and fifth in the country.
They play a half-court high pressure man to man defense and will switch up to a zone at times.
The Red Raiders run a motion offense, that will feature double high screens. They will drive the ball into the paint and kick the ball out to one of their shooters.
This is another tough match-up for the Mountaineers. Texas Tech isn’t a big team, but they are long and athletic, similar to Baylor.
West Virginia will get another offensive weapon this weekend with Esa Ahmad eligible to play after serving his suspension. This is good news for a team that had one of their worst offensive performances the past Tuesday night against Baylor.
I don’t think Esa will start, but I do expect him to play some significant minutes against Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers were held to just 31.1% from the field Tuesday night against Baylor. That was the fourth time this year West Virginia was held under 40% and it was their worst shooting performance of the season. Following a game of being held in the thirtieth percentile in field goal percentage, West Virginia increases their average by 13.2%.
It’s going to be loud in the Untied Supermarkets Arena and West Virginia has a big target on their back. I expect the Red Raiders to be riding on a lot of emotion to start the game. The Mountaineers need to withstand the first ten minutes of the game, and not allow themselves to start the game in a big deficit.
Although the Red Raiders play a lot of guards, they struggle at times taking care of the ball. They average 13 turnovers a game.
Teddy Allen will have to bounce back this game and with Esa coming back it’s going to be too much offense for Texas Tech. Add in the most consistent offensive player Lamont West, the poise of Jevon Carter and the big plays of Daxter Miles Jr late in the games, I believe the Mountaineers pull away in the final minutes to win the game.
Mountaineers win 78-70.
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WV Sports Now Daily Notebook – December 11
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