Texas Tech has been a much-improved team of late and aims for its fifth win in seven games when it faces West Virginia on Saturday afternoon in Big 12 play at Morgantown, W.Va.
The Red Raiders (14-12, 3-10 Big 12) were winless in eight conference games after falling at home to West Virginia 76-61 on Jan. 25.
Then things quickly turned around as Texas Tech’s hot stretch includes upsets of then-No. 13 Iowa State, then-No. 12 Kansas State and No. 6 Texas.
The 74-67 home victory over the Longhorns came on Monday when Texas Tech received a career-high 25 points from De’Vion Harmon.
“These guys believe in themselves,” Red Raiders coach Mark Adams said. “There’s a saying, with excellence comes great adversity. We’ve had a lot of adversity and not to say we’re excellent yet but we’re showing that path that we’re chasing greatness and we want to keep improving.”
Harmon is averaging 21 points over the past four games — reaching at least 20 three times — to raise his season scoring average to 13.8. That’s second on the squad behind Kevin Obanor, who leads in scoring (15.2) and rebounding (6.3).
Texas Tech is just 1-6 on the road and has also dropped eight of its 10 visits to Morgantown. One of the wins came last season when the Red Raiders prevailed 60-53.
This time around, neither the Red Raiders nor the Mountaineers (15-11, 4-9) can afford another loss on their postseason resumes.
“We are all in a dogfight right now to get into the NCAA Tournament,” Adams said. “All the other teams are trying to position themselves for a higher seed. It’s really important that we play our best basketball the rest of the way out.”
West Virginia is 11-3 at home and is coming off consecutive road losses — a 94-60 battering at the hands of then-No. 5 Texas and a 79-67 loss to No. 9 Baylor.
The Mountaineers trailed by as many as 19 points in the loss to the Bears.
“We need to play 40 minutes,” West Virginia guard Joe Toussaint said. “You can’t play 20, you can’t play 15 and you can’t play 35. You have to play 40.”
Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins was frustrated with his team’s offensive attack against Baylor’s zone defense.
“I couldn’t get them to run what we wanted them to run,” Huggins said. “They were just standing out there. It’s really pretty simple stuff. You dive, you seal, you cut in above the seal and you’re wide open at 10 feet.”
Emmitt Matthews Jr., who ranks fifth on the squad in scoring at 10.0 points per game, led West Virginia with 17 points.
Toussaint, who averages 10.2, scored a career-high 22 points in the Mountaineers’ win over Texas Tech at Lubbock.
–Field Level Media