Mark Adams and the Red Raiders travel to Morgantown today to take on the Mountaineers of West Virginia in a high stakes 11:00am matchup.
Following their accumulation of three Quad 1 wins over the past few weeks, Texas Tech’s hopes of an NCAA Tournament appearance have suddenly become slightly more realistic. Of the five remaining regular season games, it’s crucial that the Red Raiders find a way to come out with at least four wins if they want to even be considered for an at-large bid to The Dance, and that starts with a win on the road come Saturday. Let’s break down the matchup to see how these two teams stack up.
Where: WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, West Virginia
Time: 11:00AM CST
This will be the second of two meetings between these two teams, with the Mountaineers claiming the first in a 76-61 victory over the Red Raiders in Lubbock earlier this season.
Since their first meeting, Texas Tech sports a 4-2 record and is currently on a two-game win streak following their home victories over #12 Kansas State and #6 Texas. West Virginia is 3-3 since beating Tech in Lubbock and comes into this game on a two-game losing streak after back-to-back road losses to #5 Texas and #9 Baylor.
Despite the relative hot-streak that the Red Raiders are on, Vegas odds have the Mountaineers favored by 6.5 ahead of tomorrow’s matchup. ESPN’s Analytics also have West Virginia listed as the favorite, giving them an 80% win probability. These numbers are likely a reflection of West Virginia’s 11-3 record at home combined with Texas Tech’s 1-6 record on the road.
Kevin Obanor currently leads the Red Raiders in both scoring and rebounding. He averages 15.2 PPG on 49.6% shooting from the field as well as 6.3RPG (4.4 DRPG, 2.0 ORPG). Previously against West Virginia, Obanor had 20 points, eight rebounds, and three steals.
De’Vion Harmon leads the team in assists, averaging a 3.5 APG with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.19. Previously against West Virginia, Harmon had 14 points, 2 assists, and a steal.
The Mountaineer’s leading scorer is Erik Stevenson, a 6’4” guard who averages 13.8 PPG on 43.2% shooting from the field and 77.9% from the line. Previously against Texas Tech, Stevenson had a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, topped off with four assists and a steal.
Jimmy Bell Jr. leads West Virginia in rebounding, averaging 5.7 RPG (3.1 DRP, 2.5 ORPG). Previously against Texas Tech, Bell Jr. had one point and six rebounds on a limited 16 minutes.
West Virginia’s assist leader is Kedrian Johnson, who averages 3.3 APG with a 1.57 assist to turnover ratio. Previously against Texas Tech, Johnson had four points and one assist through 15 minutes.
Keys to Success
Crash the glass
If the Red Raiders want to make it out of this game with a win, they have to be aggressive in grabbing rebounds on both ends of the floor, especially when it comes to limiting West Virginia’s opportunities for second chance points. In the previous meeting between these two teams, Texas Tech got heavily out-matched on both the offensive and defensive glass, which is what ultimately led to their demise.
Remain consistent through 40 minutes
As we’ve seen numerous times this season, Texas Tech consistently kept the game within one or two possessions in the first half in their previous game against WVU, but then let their foot off the gas in the second half, causing the game to slowly slip away from them. In order to win this game, the Red Raiders will have to start and finish strong, remaining aggressive through all 40 minutes.
Limit crowd involvement
While home-court advantage is not exclusive to West Virginia, crowd involvement will certainly be a factor in Saturday’s matchup as the Mountaineer ticket office announced that the game was sold out earlier this week. If the Red Raiders can limit the big momentum swings that result from crowd energy, they’ll have a much better shot at sneaking out of Morgantown with a dub.