TV Schedule: Monday, January 25th, 9 pm ET, ESPN
Arena: WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, WV
Headlining Monday night’s college basketball action will be a Big 12 nationally ranked matchup with the Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-4, 4-3 Big 12) versus the West Virginia Mountaineers (10-4, 3-3 Big 12).
In a pandemic year, both programs recently have been on the unfortunate side trying to navigate the season through postponed games. Texas Tech had their last two games postponed between TCU and Iowa State due to both opponents pausing team activities. Meanwhile, West Virginia went on a pause due to COVID-19 and had to postpone three games.
This will mark the 21st all-time meeting between the Red Raiders and Mountaineers. West Virginia currently leads the series 14-6. Last season, the series was split at 1-1. West Virginia won the first matchup in 2020 at home 66-54, while Texas Tech came out on top in their home meeting last season 89-81.
Texas Tech will enter Monday’s matchup with a record of 3-0 on the road. During their last road game on January 13th, Texas Tech was able to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit to win over Texas 79-77. Junior guard, Mac McClung (16.3 ppg), led the Red Raiders with 22 points, which included the game-winning shot with two seconds remaining.
During the Red Raiders’ last game on January 16th, Texas Tech was able to hang in with Baylor but was not able to defeat the Bears. Baylor knocked off Texas Tech 68-60. Once again, McClung led the Red Raiders in scoring with a season-high 24 points. Sophomore guard, Kevin McCullar (11.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg), tallied his second double double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
After missing their last three games from January 12th through January 19th, West Virginia returned to the court on Saturday at Kansas State. The Mountaineers were able to force Kansas State into 28 total turnovers for West Virginia to win 69-47. Sophomore point guard, Miles McBride (15.3 ppg, 4.1 apg), made four three-point shots to lead the Mountaineers with 18 points.
For Texas Tech, the Red Raiders will look to find more scoring options other than McClung carrying the offense. Against Baylor, McClung accounted for 40 percent of the scoring, dropping down 24 points of a team total of 60.
However, when Texas Tech won against Texas, the Red Raiders had four players who were able to score in double figures with Mac McClung, Kevin McCullar, sophomore guard, Terrence Shannon (12.8 ppg, 5 rpg), and senior forward, Marcus Santos-Silva (8.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
After missing the first nine games of the season due to a high-ankle sprain, Kevin McCullar has been able to be a difference-maker for Texas Tech. McCullar is averaging 13.6 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game during the last three games.
During their last game against Baylor, Texas Tech held the number three perimeter shooting team nationally below their three-point shooting percentage of 42.6 percent. The Red Raiders allowed Baylor to shoot 9-for-24 from the outside (37.5 percent). The Bears’ top perimeter threat, Jared Butler, was held to just 2-for-7 shooting from the outside and scored a season-low seven points against Texas Tech.
On Monday night, Texas Tech will once again look to shut down West Virginia’s perimeter attack. The Mountaineers are shooting 39.2 percent from three-point range through six conference games. West Virginia’s top two backcourt scorers, Miles McBride and senior guard, Taz Sherman (12.2 ppg), are both shooting over 38 percent from the outside this season.
Currently, the Red Raiders have allowed a league-worst 39.2 percent three-point shots to conference opponents through seven conference games. However, if Texas Tech can replicate how they were able to defend the perimeter against Baylor, then it could be a long game for West Virginia.
Where Texas Tech will have the edge on Monday will be at the free-throw line. The Red Raiders will enter Monday’s matchup first in the conference converting on over 77 percent of their free throws. Meanwhile, West Virginia is ninth in the Big 12 shooting 67.4 percent at the free-throw line.
The strong suit for Texas Tech comes with a weakness for West Virginia. The Red Raiders are currently first in the Big 12 in defending two-point shots, allowing conference opponents to make just 45.9 percent of their shots inside.
Due to Oscar Tshiebwe’s transfer, the Mountaineers frontcourt is limited to junior forward, Derek Culver (13.4 ppg, 10.3 rpg), as West Virginia’s main interior presence. The Mountaineers have been having trouble connecting on their inside shots all season long. West Virginia is currently last in the conference in two-point shooting, making just 41.3 percent of their two-point shots.
West Virginia strongly relies on offensive rebounds for second-chance points. The Mountaineers are sixth nationally averaging 14.4 offensive rebounds per game. West Virginia will need to make an impact on the glass to increase their chances of winning on Monday.
During their last game, West Virginia got outrebounded 37-24 in total rebounds and 11-5 on the offensive glass against Kansas State. Derek Culver will also need to be a reliable factor offensively for West Virginia on Monday. Culver struggled on Saturday, shooting just 2-for-8 from the floor, tallying just eight points and four rebounds, while fouling out in 21 minutes.
After the postponement of their last two games, Texas Tech has been waiting nine days to finally play their next game on Monday. The Red Raiders are coming off the toughest schedule nationally from two weeks ago when they faced Texas and Baylor. Texas Tech has a great opportunity to take advantage of the extended time to prepare for their matchup.
Despite their 10-4 record and ranking inside the Top 15, West Virginia is looking to put together their first winning streak in over a month. The Mountaineers are 3-3 during their last six games. Recently, a win by the Mountaineers has been followed by a loss on the schedule.
On Monday night, the stakes are high in the Big 12 Conference in primetime, when Texas Tech and West Virginia meet each other for a crucial matchup. Both teams are looking for another resume-building win, with the Red Raiders and Mountaineers each 1-3 against AP Top 25 opponents.
Prediction: Texas Tech 75, West Virginia 66