Texas Tech-West Virginia Preview

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- No. 9 West Virginia had five days to process a late-game meltdown at Kansas. Texas Tech is five days removed from a euphoric upset of No. 4 Baylor.

How the teams handled the space between could determine who wins Saturday's matchup in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers (20-6, 8-5 Big 12) let a victory evaporate in crushing fashion at Lawrence by squandering a 14-point lead in the final 2:45 on Monday. Asked how he could convince his team to forget about such a collapse, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said, "I'm not sure I could if I tried."

He hopes a two-day break from practice, and the chance to get revenge against Texas Tech (17-9, 5-8), will spark West Virginia into the right mindset.

"I wanted them to take two days off and try to retool themselves for the stretch run," Huggins said.

On Jan. 3 in Lubbock, the Red Raiders overtook West Virginia 77-76, winning on Anthony Livingston's 3-pointer with six seconds left in overtime. That remained Texas Tech's biggest victory until the Red Raiders knocked off Baylor 84-78 on Monday.

"We happened to come out on the fortunate end against Baylor, but we've been playing good basketball for the past three weeks now," Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. "We need to continue to try to play the game on our terms."

In terms of making the NCAA Tournament, the Red Raiders still require more profile-building wins. ESPN's Joe Lunardi on Thursday listed them among his top eight teams out of the field.

Guard Keenan Evans (15.2 points, 46.7 percent from 3-point range) remains Texas Tech's top scorer, though sixth man Niem Stevenson averaged 21.5 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the recent two-game stretch against Kansas and Baylor. Forwards Zach Smith (13.2 points, 7.6 rebounds) and Livingston (10.7 points) each were clutch during the earlier upset of West Virginia.

"They're on a heck of a roll," Huggins said.

Yet the Red Raiders are 0-6 in Big 12 road games, and Beard doesn't see much relevance from the faceoff six weeks ago.

"To answer your question, no I don't like our matchup," he said. "We'll have to play a near-perfect game to win in Morgantown."

If the Red Raiders want to stay competitive, they will have to protect the ball. The Mountaineers lead the nation with an average of 21.88 turnovers forced per game, and their turnover margin of plus-9.5 per game is also tops in the country.

West Virginia point guard Jevon Carter is seventh in Division I with an average of 2.88 steals per game.

Texas Tech tends to be good with its ball-handling, as its average of 10.8 turnovers per game is tied for 18th in the nation.

West Virginia is paced by forward Esa Ahmad (11.9 points), Carter (11.8 points, 4.2 assists) and forward Nathan Adrian (10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds).

Mountaineers guard Daxter Miles (9.2 points), once a reliable component of the offense, has only 10 points over his past three games.

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