WVU Hits Road For Texas Tech

Mountaineers were upset last season in Lubbock

MORGANTOWN — The taste is still there.

A year ago (well, Jan. 2) then-No. 7 West Virginia made the trip to United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas, and was the victim of a 77-76 overtime loss at the hands of an unranked Texas Tech squad.

Anthony Livingston’s 3-point field goal with six seconds remaining was the game-winner, but it was the foul line where the real outcome occurred as the Red Raiders made good on 20 of their 30 opportunities while the Mountaineers shot 13 of 24.

It was the first regular-season win for the Red Raiders against the Mountaineers since they joined the Big 12 in 2012. Tech’s only other victory against West Virginia occurred in the first round of the 2013 Big 12 Tournament.

“I hope our guys remember,” veteran WVU coach Bob Huggins explained said after his team’s 57-54 against Baylor. “They (Texas Tech) are for real. They’re good. Real good. Experienced. They have a great mix of old and new.

“(Keenan) Evans has done a great job at the point and (Zhaire) Smith is a very athletic player.”

No. 8 ranked Tech, now 14-2 overall and 3-1 in Big 12 play, is coming off a 75-65 loss at Oklahoma on Tuesday while No. 2 WVU (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) won its 15th straight game with the three-point victory at home against the Bears.

“I’ve been telling the guys that ‘the dog with the bone is always in danger,’ “ Huggins continued. “We are going to have a bullseye on our backs, but that’s why you’re playing.”

The Mountaineers got 12 points apiece from sophomores Lamont West and James ‘Beetle’ Bolden in the win over Baylor. But, it was 21 turnovers by the Bears that led to 20 WVU points that proved to be their undoing.

“We know that our offense is going to come and go at times, but our defense has always got to show up,” Moundsville native Chase Harler, who had seven points, three rebounds and two assists and steals, said. “Our defense is where we hang our hats. As long as we play strong defense, then we will have a chance to win.”

And, that will be the case at 2 p.m. today when the Mountaineers look to overcome the upset-minded Red Raiders. The game will be televised on ESPN with Mark Neely and Robbie Hummel providing the play-by-play.

TTU coach Chris Beard, who is 32-16 in his second season in Lubbock, will go with a starting lineup that includes junior Norense Odiase (4.7 ppg.) at center and seniors Justin Gray (5.6), Niem Stevenson (7.8) and Evans (17.3) along with freshman Smith (10.4) at the guards.

Huggins will counter with a lineup of seniors Jevon Carter (16.1 ppg.) and Daxter Miles Jr. (13.8) at the guards with sophomores West (12.9), Wesley Harris (6.1) and Sagaba Konate (9.0) at the forwards.

Fans can also expect to see Bolden (10.4), freshman Teddy Allen (9.1) and sophomores Harler (2.9), Maciej Bender (1.8) and Logan Routt (1.6).

Making his expected first appearance of the season will be 6-foot-8 junior Esa Ahmad, the team’s second- leading scorer a year ago. But it remains unknown how soon or how long the forward will play.

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” Huggins said during Thursday’s Big 12 teleconference. “He’ll play, but his time on the court will be determined by how he plays.”