West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders | Game Preview

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Spo

The Mountaineers start off conference with two Big 12 road games, TCU, which they won and the second being tonight's game in Lubbock against the Red Raiders.

THE INFORMATION

Game Details
TEAMS West Virginia Mountaineers (9-5, 1-0)
Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-6, 0-1)
WHERE United Spirit Arena | Lubbock, Texas
WHEN 6:00 pm Monday January 6th
CONSUME Radio - TTSN | TV - Big 12 Network & ESPN3

THE CHARACTERS

Starters
Texas Tech West Virginia
Robert Turner (6-3/180) PG Juwan Staten (6-1/190)
Toddrick Gotcher (6-4/195) SG Eron Harris (6-3/195)
Jaye Crockett (6-7/210) SF Terry Henderson (6-4/200)
Jordan Tolbert (6-7/225) PF Nathan Adrian (6-9/230)
Dejan Kravic (7-0/235) C Brandon Watkins (6-9/235)

THE ANALYSIS

Key Matchup | Staten vs. Turner: Turner is going to have to snap out of whatever he has going on. He’s been in a daze and Randy Onwuasor’s minutes have increased and if he doesn’t figure things out pretty quickly, he could get replaced. Turner has another tough match-up in front of him as Staten is a guy that is a terrific scorer, scoring 16 a game, can rebound, over 6 a game and involves his teammates, over 6 a game.

Take Aim: WVU’s best player is Harris, who averages over 18 a game. He’s been really good and maybe this is where the three-guard lineup needs to happen, go ahead and start Hannahs so that he can matchup with Henderson. I think I’m ready to see this happen. I’m also really unsure about Watkins and Adrian starting, but they started prior to the TCU game, so I went with it. Watkins and Adrian are true freshmen, but not serious players. They average 3 and 6 points a game. WVU does have some better options in the frontcourt, including Devin Williams (6-9/255), who averages 10 points a game and 8 boards, and Remi Dibo (6-7/225) who average 8 points and 4 boards a game. I think those guys get most of the minutes.

Three-Point Questions with The Smoking Musket: Much thanks to WVUIE97 from The Smoking Musket for answering some questions about the Mountaineers.

1. Thus far, it appears that West Virginia and Texas Tech have taken similar paths, beaten the teams they should have, but lost to the teams that appear to have been favored? What's been your general impression of the team thus far?

WVUIE97: WVU is a young team that's still learning a great deal. That said, this team is playing together so much better than they did last season (we had some addition by subtraction in the off-season, especially with Murray leaving). The general attitude of the team is more of one that cares to improve and do what Huggs is asking them to do. Despite some of the struggles, this team is joy to watch compared to the last season.

2. In previewing this game, it appears that the strength of this team are its guards? Is that accurate and who are the two guards that this team should watch out for on Monday night?

WVUIE97: That's an accurate assessment. Junior Juwan Staten is playing like the player we thought we were getting last year. He's been an absolute floor general for WVU capable of leading the team, scoring and distributing. Sophomore Eron Harris has really improved his shooting this offseason after showing potential last season. His scoring, despite a minor injury earlier and battling the flu of late is still leading the Big 12. When these two struggle, so does the team.

3. I'd love your general thoughts about HC Bob Huggins and the general state of the program? Is this a rebuilding year for the Mountaineers?

WVUIE97: If you would have asked me this in February of 2013, you'd get an answer full of concern. No one was prepared for what we saw last season, not only in the record, but the visible effort (or lack thereof)...including Huggs. He had three straight recruiting classes just blow up in his face due to a myriad of circumstances (some stranger than fiction) and it finally caught up last season.

What we've been pleasantly surprised about is how quickly he's been able to turn the roster around into one that's buying into what he wants. The aforementioned addition by subtraction has left this team without any seniors, but also without any malcontents.

The short answer to your question is that we probably view this not so much a rebuilding season so much as a re-learning season. The direction of the program is definitely heading in the right direction. It will be a struggle to make the tournament, but this team will definitely be competitive this season.

Game Day Links:

The Official Site Previews: The official site has their official preview of the game, including the Lubbock-area channels for the Big 12 Network (TexasTech).

Scoring Inside: The LAJ talks with HC Tubby Smith, who notes that the team needs to do a better job of scoring inside (via LAJ).

"We need to get the ball inside, something we didn’t do a good job of (Saturday against Iowa State)," Tech coach Tubby Smith said. "It always takes two. You’ve got to hold your position, seal your guy and then have people who are willing and looking to throw the ball inside. That’s the strength of our team. When we don’t do that, we’re going to get beat."
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