The West Virginia Mountaineers men’s basketball team will get their first taste of the Phillips 66 Big XII tournament tonight at 7 PM tonight in Kansas City against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
The tournament could not come at a worse time for the Mountaineers who are mired in an embarassing 6-game losing streak. The streak has been highlighted by poor shooting and bad execution on both ends of the court. In essence, the Mountaineers have just looked out of place in conference play.
WVU has a great opportunity to feel like they belong once more with a favorable match-up with the Red Raiders. The Mountaineers swept the season series with their foes from Lubbock, TX, collecting a 77-61 road win on February 2 and a narrow 66-64 home win on February 16 (the last win the Mountaineers collected during the regular season).
In the two meetings, the Mountaineers shot 56.5% and 48.7% from the field in the two meetings. West Virginia was also the better team on the glass, out-rebounding Texas Tech a combined 63-51.
WVU got key performances in both contests from a variety of players, making it difficult to pin-point who was the key to winning each game. Deniz Kilicli owned the paint in the second match-up, but was a non-factor in the first match-up. Eron Harris was ineffective in the first meeting, but was critical to the second win.
In this match-up, I like Aaric Murray to reclaim his mid-season form and become a huge factor underneath the rim. If Murray can find his high level of play once again, the Mountaineers will roll in this one.
The match-up with the Red Raiders will hopefully jog WVU’s memory of what it takes to win.