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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 13, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sprint Center (19,000) -- Kansas City, Missouri. Television: Big 12 Network. Home Record: TTU 9-11, WVU 8-6. Away Record: TTU 1-8, WVU 3-9. Neutral Record: TTU 0-0, WVU 2-3. Conference Record: TTU 3-15, WVU 6-12. Series Record: West Virginia leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: The first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament begins on Wednesday night in Kansas City, as the ninth-seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders square off against the eighth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers at the Sprint Center.
The winner will advance to Thursday's quarterfinals to play top-seeded Kansas.
Texas Tech's season started off promising enough, as it owned an 8-4 record in early January, but it spiraled out of control from there, winning just two of its remaining 17 games to finish up 3-15 in the league, just a game up on TCU for last place. The Red Raiders fell to 10-19 overall in the regular-season finale by blowing a double-digit lead to Texas to lose in overtime, 71-69.
WVU's transition from the Big East last season to the Big 12 this season has not been a smooth one, as it owns a lackluster 13-18 overall record and ended the conference campaign just 6-12. The Mountaineers played especially poor down the stretch with losses in each of their last six games, including an 83-74 home loss to Iowa State on Saturday.
WVU has beaten Texas Tech in all three previous meetings in the all-time series, two of which came this season.
The Red Raiders opened their latest game red-hot, going up 35-19 late in the first half, but they gradually saw that lead dissipate down the stretch. After Texas tied the game in the waning seconds of regulation to force overtime, it converted the game-winning bucket with just three seconds left in the extra session to hand Texas Tech the heart-breaking loss. Jaye Crockett led the way in the setback with 15 points and eight rebounds, Jordan Tolbert and Josh Gray poured in 11 points apiece and Dejan Kravic added 10 points, seven boards, five assists and four blocks. On the season, TTU has the worst scoring defense in the Big 12, allowing 72.3 ppg to opponents, and its scoring offense isn't nearly strong enough to keep pace (65.2 ppg). Crockett boasts 11.9 ppg and 6.8 rpg, while Tolbert (9.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Kravic (8.6 ppg, 5.2 ppg) round out a solid trio of forwards.
The Mountaineers found themselves down by 24 points at halftime their last time out, and even though they made greater than 52 percent of their field goal attempts after intermission, it wasn't enough to make up for a poor first half as they were saddled with the nine-point loss. Pacing five teammates in double figures was Jabarie Hinds, who came off the bench to shoot 4-of-5 from 3-point range on his way to 19 points. Aaric Murray, Eron Harris and Matt Humphrey all netted 11 points, while Terry Henderson chipped in with 10 points. WVU has failed to impress at either end of the court this season, scoring only 66.0 ppg while surrendering 68.0 ppg. It is the rare team without a double-digit scorer, but it benefits from a deep rotation where six players score least 7.5 ppg and 11 pour account for 2.6 ppg or more. Harris nets 9.9 ppg, while Deniz Kilicli (8.9 ppg) and Murray (8.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg) are both useful in the paint with field goal percentages greater than .470.
West Virginia has been far from impressive in the last couple of weeks, but Texas Tech has shown very little sign of life as well. Considering their success against the Red Raiders during the regular season, expect the Mountaineers to get their act together in this matchup to advance to the quarterfinals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 70, Texas Tech 66
03/13 11:12:23 ET