Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

January 21, 2014

WVU seeks to reverse course vs. Texas Tech

BECKLEY — A lot has changed since West Virginia’s basketball team left Lubbock, Texas, on Jan. 6 with an 89-86 overtime win over Texas Tech in hand.

That Mountaineer team was on a three-game winning streak and had just improved to 10-5 overall and 2-0 in Big 12 play with the win over the Red Raiders. It left the Lone Star State with some big expectations.

Less than three weeks later, Texas Tech and head coach Tubby Smith will return the visit tonight when the teams meet at 8 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum in a game that will air locally on WOAY television.

The WVU squad that will greet them is one that has lost three straight games — the last two by double digits — and is coming off its worst performance of the year, a 78-56 beatdown on the road at Kansas State on Saturday.

“That was a total collapse of team, coaching staff, the whole deal,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins, whose team had taken No. 11 Oklahoma State to the wire a week early before falling 73-72. “Nobody did a very good job.”

To call tonight’s game a must-win would be like calling the Super Bowl a pretty big game. Following the meeting with the Red Raiders, WVU’s next six games will come against ranked teams — including road trips to No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 8 Kansas. In fact, 10 of WVU’s remaining 13 games will be against teams currently among the top 25 nationally.

The Mountaineers (10-8, 2-3 Big 12) are desperate for some sort of confidence booster heading into that run.

At one point this year, Texas Tech would have been the perfect team to provide some healing medicine. The Red Raiders (10-8, 2-3 Big 12) lost their first three conference games and were 8-8 overall after falling to Texas on Jan. 11.

Since that time, though, Texas Tech has won back-to-back games, including a major upset of No. 12 Baylor, and is starting to buy into the plan of its coach, who’s been to 17 NCAA Tournaments in his career and won a national title with Kentucky in 1998.

Senior forward Jaye Crockett leads the team with 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game and had a 15-point, four-rebound effort the last time the two teams met. Junior forward Jordan Tolbert has also been strong inside, averaging 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He finished with 18 points and 12 boards against the Mountaineers.

Sophomore guard Dusty Hannahs also played a big role in the first meeting. He had 14 points and an assist, helping to get the Red Raiders, who trailed by 11 points in the second half, back in the game.

The difference for the Mountaineers 16 days ago was junior point guard Juwan Staten, who took over the game down the stretch and finished with 25 points and five assists. The Dayton transfer is averaging 17.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game, and he said after the loss to KSU he plans on taking on more of a leadership role in trying to pull some of the younger Mountaineers with him.

• • •

The WVU women’s team will also be in action tonight, facing Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, at 7:30 p.m.

The Mountaineers are 16-2 overall and 5-1 in Big 12 play and moved up to No. 18 in the national polls this week. Sophomore guard Bria Holmes leads the team, averaging 13.9 points per game. Senior center Asya Bussie is averaging 13.1 points and 7.3 boards per outing for WVU, which already has wins over No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 13 Iowa State, both on the road, on its resumé.

Head coach Mike Carey’s squad has won 16 of its last 17 games since opening the year with a loss to Ohio State. The only setback during that stretch came against No. 7 Baylor.

Tonight’s opponent, Texas Tech, is 6-11 overall and still searching for its first Big 12 win of the season.

A live broadcast of tonight’s game can be heard online at www.wvusports.com.

—chuffman@register-herald.com / @CamHuffmanRH�

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