The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

February 15, 2013

Mountaineers face Red Raiders in must-win

BECKLEY — One winning streak is over.

West Virginia’s 80-60 loss on the road at Baylor Wednesday ended the Mountaineer basketball team’s thoughts of a long winning streak that would turn heads and perhaps catch the attention of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. WVU’s mini-run lasted just three games — and came against the bottom three teams in the Big 12.

Now 12-12 overall and 5-6 in Big 12 play, West Virginia will host Texas Tech today at 4 p.m., trying again to start another one.

“We need this win to try to get a winning streak started again,” said WVU sophomore guard Jabari Hinds. “It was a tough game we lost (at Baylor), but we still have a positive attitude about everything. We’re going to try to come in and get a win (against the Red Raiders).”

The sand is quickly draining through the hourglass for the Mountaineers. With just seven regular season contests remaining, every game is almost an elimination game when it comes to WVU’s hopes of a sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

“I don’t know that it would be over (with a loss to Texas Tech), but we need to win,” admitted WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “I’ll be the first one to tell you that. They all count. We’ve got an opportunity now, playing teams with a lot higher RPIs, to increase our RPI. We’ve got some people coming up with pretty high RPIs.

“We’ve kind of been in this situation before. It hasn’t been as dire as it is now. But we’ve been in a situation where we needed to win. The good thing about playing in a good league is that you have more opportunities.”

Those games will come on Monday at No. 10 Kansas State and next Saturday at home against No. 17 Oklahoma State. Then there’s a trip to No. 14 Kansas on March 2.

But even victories in those games won’t matter if the Mountaineers don’t win the games they’re supposed to win — including today’s.

“We need to focus and be ready every night to play,” said Hinds. “We have some tough games coming up, and we have to be ready to play.”

WVU found good results the last time in faced the Red Raiders, winning 77-61 in Lubbock, Texas on Feb. 2. Eron Harris scored 18 points in that game, and the Mountaineers shot better than 56 percent from the field. They also forced 21 Texas Tech turnovers.

“We turned them over early and turned them over late,” remembered Huggins. “It was 12-2 or 14-2 (early) and a lot of that was off of turnovers.”

WVU hopes to use a similar plan today, when it steps in front of the home fans for the first in a stretch of three home games out of the next four outings.

Today’s game will air locally on WOAY TV.

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

 

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