NCAA Tuesday Night Basketball: West Virginia/Texas Tech Preview

by Big Al Staff

A Tuesday ESPN college basketball double-header concludes at 9 PM ET in a battle between two nationally-ranked Big 12 teams.

West Virginia won their fourth game in their last five contests on Saturday in a 91-79 victory against Kansas as a 2.5-point favorite. Miles McBride led the way with a career-high 29 points. Tax Sherman added 25 points, which were also a career-high. The Mountaineers also forced 18 turnovers while holding the Jayhawks to 7 of 20 shooting from 3-point range. Head coach Bob Huggins declared that it was his team’s “best defensive performance of the year.”

McBride leads the team with a 15.8 points-per-game scoring average. Sherman’s 13.1 points-per-game clip is third on the team. Big man Derek Culver contributes 14.3 points-per-game along with 10.3 rebounds-per-game.

West Virginia has won three of their last four games with their 76-72 win at Oklahoma State on Tuesday as an 11-point favorite. Taz Sherman hit both his free throws with 6.4 seconds left in the game to ice the victory. Sherman led the team with 18 points. He is third on the team with a 12.4 points-per-game scoring average. Sean McNeil is the Mountaineer's fourth player scoring in double-digits with a 10.2 points-per-game average.

West Virginia went on hiatus for two weeks after a COVID outbreak within their program in mid-January. They returned to the court on January 23rd in a 69-47 win at Kansas State as an 11-point favorite in their first game since January 9th.

The Mountaineers are 5-3 since losing two players in their frontline rotation at the beginning of the month. Isaiah Cottrell suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in their game against Northeastern. The four-star freshman was averaging only 5.6 minutes-per-game, but he gave the Mountaineers’ depth at forward with potential upside as their highest-rated freshman. The more significant loss was Oscar Tshiebwe, who stepped away from the program for personal reasons. The sophomore led the team with a 10.2 points-per-game scoring average last season but had taken a step back this year by scoring 8.1 points-per-game while adding 3.8 rebounds-per-game.

West Virginia ranks 14th in the current Associated Press poll with a 13-5 record. Their 6-3 conference mark places them second in the Big 12. They have high-profile wins against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and now Kansas after Saturday. The Mountaineers' five losses were against Gonzaga, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Florida.

“Press Virginia” has not been effective this season for Huggins as his team ranks only third in the Big 12 with a 21.2% defensive turnover rate. The Mountaineers’ 20.4% turnover rate overall is 105th in the nation. West Virginia is 50th nationally and seventh in the Big 12 in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. The Mountaineers are 13th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency because of their ability to generate second-chance scoring opportunities. West Virginia ranks 10th nationally with a 36.5% offensive rebounding rate. This group is one of the Huggins’ best 3-point shooting teams in his career as they are making 42.9% of their shots from downtown in Big 12 play.

Texas Tech won their third straight game on Saturday with their 73-62 victory at Kansas State as a 15.5-point favorite. The Red Raiders converted 13 of their 24 shots in the second half to cruise to the win. Mac McClung scored a team-high 23 points. Head coach Chris Beard also got 16 points off his bench, which helped to make up for Terrance Shannon scoring only 2 points. The sophomore played only 11 minutes due to an apparent injury. He should be able to take the court tonight.

Texas Tech climbed to 7th in the latest AP poll with a 14-5 record. The Red Raiders return home, where they have won only twice in their five games in conference play.

This group is likely Beard’s most talented team in his five years as head coach of this program. While he lost three starters from the team that finished 18-13 last season, he was aggressive in attracting some high-level transfers while bringing in a good freshman class to join junior Kyler Edwards and sophomore Terrence Shannon. Some of the depth Beard had established diminished when five-star freshman Nimari Burnett decided to leave the team to transfer to another school. He was averaging 17.7 minutes-per-game but only scoring 5.3 points-per-game. Georgetown transfer Mac McClung has adapted to Beard’s system to lead the team with a 17.5 points-per-game scoring average. Shannon is second on the team by scoring 13.6 points-per-game.

Texas Tech is once again an outstanding defensive team under Beard. They are 12th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom. The Red Raiders are also seventh in the country by forcing turnovers in 24.9% of their opponent’s possessions. This team thrives in getting second-chance shots. Texas Tech rebounds 34.7% of their missed shots, 24th in the country. They also get to the free-throw line as they rank 14th in free throw rate.

The weakness of this team is shooting the basketball. The Red Raiders make only 34.1% of their 3-pointers and 48.2% of their shots inside the arc, ranking 150th and 237th, respectively. Kenpom ranks their adjusted offensive efficiency as 30th nationally.

Texas Tech is 6-4 in the rugged Big 12 with losses to Baylor, West Virginia, Kansas, and Oklahoma State. They lost to Houston in non-conference play. Their highest-profile wins are against Texas and Oklahoma twice, along with a non-conference victory against LSU.

West Virginia won the first meeting between these two teams on January 25th, 88-87, in Morgantown as a 2.5-point favorite. The Mountaineers made their last ten shots of the game culminating in a McBride jumper with six seconds to win the game.

BetAnySports lists West Virginia as a 5.5-point favorite with the total set at 141.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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