WVU encounters a third ranked foe in Texas Tech | News, Sports, Jobs

West Virginia forward Jalen Bridges controls the ball against Kansas during an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia on Saturday January 15, 2022 in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

West Virginia is still going through the Big 12 gauntlet, and the next time the Mountaineers take to the field, they won’t be expected to challenge them any less.

The Mountaineers will face their third straight ranked opponent on Saturday, hitting the road to take on No. 18 Texas Tech (noon, ESPN2).

Sitting at 14-4 and 4-2 in the Big 12, the Red Raiders are among the best in the conference. Statistically, although they are not the best in many areas, they rank in the top three in categories such as scoring margin and rebounding margin.

“They don’t have very small guys,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “They have great height, they have great length and they have great athleticism. (Head Coach) Mark (Adams) does a terrific job of getting out there and finding guys. You don’t have to go out with the portal anymore, but he has a habit of bringing in guys and bringing in the kind of guys he thinks fit their system.

Adams, an experienced head coach outside of the Division I level, was named head coach of the Red Raiders this offseason.

After spending the past five seasons as an assistant under Chris Beard, Adams, like many others around college basketball, has embraced roster building through the transfer portal.

In recent years, the Beard regime has brought in players such as Kevin Obanor, who leads the team in total rebounds, and Marcus Santos-Silva, a reliable scoring option off the bench. Along with Beard at the University of Texas, Adams continued to hit the gate with extreme enthusiasm.

Look no further than forward Bryson Williams to see the fruits of Texas Tech’s efforts. After thriving in Conference USA for the past two seasons, the 6-foot-8 super senior has become the center point of the Red Raiders’ offense after making a move over the summer. He leads the team with 12.6 points per game and has scored 15 or more points seven times this season.

Defensive efforts were aided by the addition of Davion Warren, a 6-foot-6 guard who transferred from Hampton. After being named to the All-Big South First Team last year, he leads the Red Raiders this season with 25 steals.

Warren also ranks fourth on the team in points. Along with Williams, the pair have started in each of the team’s 18 games to date.

“That’s pretty much what Mark has done his entire career,” Huggins said. “He was a junior college coach – a high-level junior college coach – who is kind of used to going out and recruiting guys and bringing in guys who have no experience in his system… He sent a bunch of guys in high schools. from college, which means he did a wonderful job with them.

The Mountaineers (13-4, 2-3 Big 12) will rely on a handful of junior college guys to snap the team’s two-game losing streak. Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman, who rank in the top three in the conference in minutes per game, lead WVU in scoring.

Additionally, the emergence of guard Malik Curry was a welcome addition, though it didn’t help the Mountaineers secure a win. The Old Dominion transfer is averaging 21 points over the last two games, making it another attacking option.

Huggins says taking advantage of scoring opportunities will be one of the critical steps in overcoming the Red Raiders.

“Certainly we have to make shots,” Huggins said. “We have to do a very good job defending them. They do a great job spreading and penetrating you, so we have to do a good job defending them.

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