Basketball: #14 Mountaineers in Lubbock to take on Texas Tech
The West Virginia University Men’s basketball team face their second challenge as part of the 18-game Big XII gauntlet Monday night when they play the 10-4 Texas Tech Red Raiders at the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, TX. To get you set for all the action, here is quick a preview of tonight’s match-up:
Trends and Streaks:
West Virginia will enter tonight’s game on a six-game winning streak, and the winners of nine out of their last 10 games. The Red Raiders will be slumming in having lost their conference opener to #11 Texas 70-61 on Saturday. Texas Tech is 7-3 in their last 10 games, but those three losses have taken place over the span of their last four contests.
This will be the seventh all-time meeting between the two schools in Men’s basketball. WVU currently holds the edge in the series by a margin of 5-1. The two teams last met on January 22nd, 2014 at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. That day former Mountaineer Terry Henderson recorded a career-high 28 points, while Juwan Staten finished with 16 points, seven assists, and five rebounds as West Virginia eked out an 87-81 victory over the Red Raiders.
Rankings and Ratings:
West Virginia is now ranked #14 in both the weekly Associated Press top 25 poll, and the USA Today Coach’s poll. This is the seventh week in a row the Mountaineers find themselves inside the top 25. The Mountaineers jump up three spots in the AP poll, while they moved up just one position this week’s Coach’s poll.
The Mountaineers also have an RPI of 11 following this weekend’s victory against TCU. WVU did fairly well during the non-conference portion of their schedule against teams with RPI’s higher than 200. Only five teams (Marshall, VMI, Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Monmouth) fell beneath this mark in which the coaching staff uses in order to determine who is best to schedule for non-conference play.
Texas Tech is not currently ranked in either national top 25 poll. They are rated #147 in the updated RPI rankings. Out of their ten victories so far this season, only two came against teams ranked inside the top 200 of the RPI (Auburn and Missouri State).
Senior guard Juwan Staten continues to lead the Mountaineers in scoring as he currently averages 16.1 points per game. Staten also leads the team in foul shooting (81.7%), and assists (55). Sophomore forward Devin Williams is the team’s leading rebounder with 102 total so far this season.
Newcomers Jonathan Holton, Jaysean Paige, and Jevon Carter all currently pace the squad in several other notable statistical categories including field goal percentage (Holton- 51.8%), three-point field goal percentage (Paige- 48.6%), blocks (Holton- 17), and steals (Carter- 30).
For the Red Raiders, Devaugnhtah Williams currently leads the squad in scoring with an 11.6 points per game average. Freshman guard Keenan Evans leads the team in three-point, and free-throw shooting with a 41.2% mark from behind the arc, and an 81.5% average at the line. Norense Odiase is the team leader in rebounds with 65, Robert Turner leads in assists with 27, Randy Onwuasor is the steals leader with 18, and Zach Smith has the most blocked shots with 18 on the year.
Who to watch:
Devin Williams will be the player to watch from West Virginia in tonight’s game. The sophomore forward is currently averaging 10.4 points per game, and 7.3 rebounds a contest. In last years’ two games against the Red Raiders, Williams averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds a contest. Should he and Jonathan Holton be able to force some turnovers up court, look for the Cincinnati, OH native to score 12-16 points in this one.
Robert Turner should be the top guy to watch out for from the Texas Tech contingent. The senior guard is currently second on the team in scoring with an average of 9.0 points per game, and tied for fourth on the team in rebounding with 3.2 per game. The Augusta, GA native had one of his better games last season in the second meeting between WVU and Texas Tech. In that tilt, Turner recorded 13 points, along with three rebounds and two assists. Also, Turner is the only returning starter from a year ago, so he should have a feel of what the Mountaineers like to do from a strategic stand point.
Key to the game:
The Mountaineers will need to be vigilant in defending against Texas Tech’s dangerous three-point shooters. The Red Raiders shot a combined 50% (20 of 40) from behind the arc in the two games with WVU in 2014. As a team this season, the Red Raiders are only averaging 30.5% from three-point range. However, should Kennan Evans and Toddrick Gotcher be left wide-open behind the arc, look for them to take full advantage as both average over 40.0% this year from long distance.
Tip-off for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7:00PM. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.