(Bob Huggins pregame Zoom conference)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s six-game stretch of contests against ranked opponents has been interrupted. Baylor has had their next three games postponed due to COVID protocols within their program. The Mountaineers were originally scheduled to face the No. 2 Bears (17-0, 9-0 Big 12) next Monday in Morgantown and next Thursday in Waco.
With those two postponements, WVU has four games that could be rescheduled. The Mountaineers had January home games against TCU and Oklahoma State postponed as well.
Of more immediate concern for the Mountaineers is Tuesday’s contest at No. 7 Texas Tech (14-5, 6-4). Two weeks ago in Morgantown, WVU outlasted the Red Raiders 88-87. A Deuce McBride basket with 5.9 seconds left gave the Mountaineers the lead and a Mac McClung miss at the buzzer gave WVU their best victory of the season to date. Bob Huggins is confident that defensive improvements made in Saturday’s 91-79 win over No. 23 Kansas can carry over.
“I think we are better defensively than we were in the first game. I kind of like where we were the last game. I thought our intensity was better. I thought our rotations were better. We were sending people where we wanted them to go. That’s what we’ve got to do. We just have to maintain some consistency in that regard,” Huggins said.
Texas Tech is 3-0 with victories over LSU, Oklahoma and Kansas State since falling to the Mountaineers. The January meeting was a bit of an anomaly in a series which has recently featured defensive struggles.
“They play hard and they have so many people that are kind of the same. They are all 6-4, 6-5. They are all strong. They all can play inside and outside and they bother you with length,” Huggins said.
“It is a variation of pack line. They are going to try to fortify the paint and not give you easy baskets and try to make you shoot shots on the perimeter. They want to pick out who they want to shoot those shots, not necessarily who we want but who they want to leave open.”
Tuesday’s matchup is West Virginia’s longest road trip in Big 12 play and they will likely be playing in front of their largest crowd of the season. 4,250 fans have been in the stands for Tech’s last two games in Lubbock. The 9 p.m. tip time creates a long day of travel for the Mountaineers.
“We are going to get home at five o’clock or later. And then our guys have to go to class or study hall. I would like for those guys to get into class and not fall asleep or go to study hall and not be groggy.”
Top honors for Deuce McBride
Following his career-high 31 point effort against Kansas, WVU sophomore guard Deuce McBride has been named the Big 12 Player of the Week. McBride also added 7 rebounds and 7 assists against the Jayhawks. Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week.
Moving on up
After falling six spots following a loss to Florida last week, the Mountaineers have climbed three spots in the AP poll this week to No. 14. WVU (13-5, 6-3 Big 12) defeated Iowa State and Kansas in a 2-0 week. The Mountaineers are also ranked 14th in the coaches poll and are currently No. 20 in the NCAA NET rankings.