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Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders start the season with two conference games at home, hosting the West Virginia Mountaineers at the United Supermarket Arena.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Game Details:

Date: Monday, January 5th
Time: 6:00 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (10-4, 0-1)
Bad Guys: West Virginia Mountaineers (13-1, 1-0)
Location: United Supermarkets Arena | Lubbock, TX
TV/Stream: ESPNU
Radio/Stream: Broadcast Affiliates and TuneIn App

Solid Thus Far. The Mountaineers had a sterling non-conference record, with wins over some quality teams. Boston College, Connecticut, NC State and Virginia Tech. The only non-conference loss of the year was at home to LSU by one point. If anything, it makes you realize how loaded the Big 12 is going to be as West Virginia is right in the mix of Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas in the KenPom ratings. I suppose this could mean that the Big 12 could really beat up on each other and there won't be a dominant team (which I think is more likely) than just one team that's going to come out head and shoulders above the rest. Since I didn't really pick a team before confernence play started, I think I'll go with Oklahoma and Iowa State as one of two teams to win the conference. I think those are a bit of darkhorse candidates, but it's probably foolish to pick against Kansas. Ever.

Starting Lineup

Pts/Reb Pts/Reb
POINT GUARD Robert Turner (6-3/190) 9.2 / 2.0* Juwan Staten (6-1/190) 16.2 / 4.2*
SHOOTING GUARD Devaugntah Williams (6-4/205) 11.6 / 3.2 Gary Browne (6-1/195) 5.0 / 1.6*
SMALL FORWARD Justin Gray (6-6/210) 7.6 / 3.1 Daxter Miles, Jr. (6-3/185) 6.3 / 2.4
POWER FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/205) 5.3 / 5.0 Jonathan Holton (6-7/220) 10.8 / 7.0
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/270) 8.1 / 5.0 Devin Williams (6-9/255) 10.7 / 7.1

* Assists.

Three Keys to the Game:

1. Scouting the Mountaineers. Staten is the Mountaineers best player and it's not close. His shooting percentage isn't great, but he is a fantastic scorer andn he's going to be a handful to deal with for the entire game. I would expect Onwausor to get heavy minutes guarding Staten. Holton is a jumping-jack forward that is a JUCO transfer from Palm Beach State, but originally signed with Rhode Island. He's just getting started and I think he's going to be terrific for the mountaineers, possibly being the focal point of this team after Staten graduates. Williams is also a big-bodied forward that is going to hit the boards, but surprisingly, he is only making 39% of his shots. He's just a sophomore, but I would have guessed that shotting percentage to be a bit higher.

2. Stats. I'll be very much interested to see how long Texas Tech is able to maintain that free throw advantage. Beating up on lesser competition and getting to the line is one thing, but continuing this pace against tougher competition is going to be something else. If Texas Tech can maintain that advantage and slow the pace, then Texas Tech is going to be in more games in Big 12 play.

West Virginia, at least statistically, is a very good team, being the 33rd best team in AdjO and 22nd best team in AdjD. They are very balanced and that could be a really fough combination for Texas Tech.

*AdjO and AdjD via KenPom.

3. Matching Up. The good thing with this game is that West Virginia is coming off a two game road trip to start the season, Saturday against TCU and then swinging through West Texas to play Texas Tech. It would be nice if Texas Tech had a bit of an advantage because of WVU's schedule. Aside from that, it would be nice to see Gray take advantage of the height, but Gray's never really developed a game where he plays inside, but uses more of a mid-range game. I really think it would maybe be the most beneficial thing to ask that Turner take it to Staten, at least make him play on both ends of the court.