MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– Ninth-ranked West Virginia University has had five days to process Monday’s loss to No. 3 Kansas, where the Mountaineers blew a 14-point lead with under three minutes to go.
WVU’s meltdown wasn’t the first of the season and Texas Tech (17-9, 5-8 Big 12) is coming off a victory over No. 4 Baylor, which brings the Red Raiders to Morgantown on a high note.
The Mountaineers (20-6, 8-5) might not be able to forget about their letdown against the Jayhawks but are hoping the break can allow the team to regroup.
“I wanted them to take two days off and try to retool themselves for the stretch run,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said.
Last time the two teams met, Texas Tech defeated WVU 77-76 in overtime.
Keenan Evans (15.2 points) is the Red Raiders’ leading scorer. He shoots 46.7 percent from beyond the arc and is their go-to man. Niem Stevenson is averaging 21.5 points, eight rebounds and four assists over the last two outings against Kansas and Baylor.
Forwards Zach Smith (13.2 points, 7.6 rebounds) and Anthony Livingston (10.7 points) each were key components in Texas Tech’s win against the Mountaineers on Jan. 3.
WVU leads the nation in forced turnovers, averaging 21.88 a contest. The Mountaineers have a turnover margin of plus-9.5 per game.
Jevon Carter (11.8 points) is the face of WVU’s defense. The junior point guard is seventh in the country and first in the Big 12 with an average of 2.88 steals per game.
Esa Ahmad leads the Mountaineers averaging 11.9 points per game.
Nathan Adrian (10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds) is the team’s top rebounder. He recorded 10 points and seven rebounds in the loss to the Jayhawks.
Daxter Miles Jr. (9.2 points) has scored only 10 points over his past three games.
WVU plans on coming out with vengeance on Saturday afternoon.
“We’re going to play with an edge,” Huggins said. “They were really good in practice yesterday. It was probably the best practice we’ve had in a long time. I think we can use (the Kansas defeat). I want an edge, I want to coach with an edge, I want our guys to play with an edge and I told them yesterday, ‘Let’s just go win out and play them again in the conference tournament.”
The Mountaineers are 9-2 against the Red Raiders. Texas Tech is 1-6 on the road this season.
Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.