By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The struggling West Virginia men’s basketball team, coming off its worst loss of the season, tries to end a three-game losing streak Wednesday against an opponent the Mountaineers already have defeated.
Texas Tech (10-8, 2-3 Big 12) visits the Coliseum for a conference rematch at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on the Big 12 Network.
The Red Raiders, also 10-8 and 2-3, will be seeking revenge for an overtime 89-86 loss to the Mountaineers on Jan. 6 in Lubbock, Texas.
But Texas Tech leads the all-time series 2-1.
West Virginia suffered a 78-56 shellacking last Saturday afternoon at the hands of Kansas State before a sellout crowd of 12,529 fans in Manhattan, Kan.
The Wildcats had their way easily in nearly every play phase. This probably was particularly painful to veteran head coach Bob Huggins. He coached at KSU before coming to WVU.
In the process, Kansas State held West Virginia to a season’s low in both scoring (56 points) and shooting percentage of 32.7 (16 of 49).
While the Mountaineers shot 50 percent or better in the early-season contests, they never shot better than 41.4 percent in the last three games — all losses.
WVU shot 50 percent or better in only one of its first five Big 12 league contests. It hit 50 percent or better from the field in five of its non-conference games.
Kansas State’s defense was so effective that it forced 15 turnovers, the second-highest number by WVU this campaign.
The Wildcats (14-4, 4-1 Big 12) were so dominating that they held West Virginia to just six field goals in the first half as KSU jumped out to a 37-24 lead at halftime.
The Mountaineers have yet to go on the road and beat an opponent that’s in the upper half of the Big 12 Conference standings.
Kansas State shot a sizzling 54.9 percent from the field (28 of 51) and converted 66.7 percent from the foul line (20 of 30).
WVU, however, did manage a 33-32 edge in rebounding. The Mountaineers had just five assists, though.
While this was the first time this year the Mountaineers failed to score at least 60 points, point guard Juwan Staten reasoned:
“It’s basketball! Everybody is going to go through periods where they shoot the basketball well and then they don’t.
“As a team, we need to approach the game more seriously.”
Hopefully, they can do that and sweep the Texas Tech series tonight at home.
The pursuit of a winning season obviously doesn’t get any easier for Huggins’ charges. Nine of their remaining 13 games on the road schedule are against Top 25-ranked opponents.
Meantime, West Virginia obviously can’t take the Red Raiders lightly.
Since barely losing to WVU, Tech has bounced back with two victories. One was against No. 12-ranked Baylor, 82-72.