West Virginia took the victory in their Big 12 home opener over Texas Tech 66-54 behind another commanding scoring performance from Miles McBride.
McBride led all scorers with 22 points for the game — a career-high — while making 72.7 percent of his shots. He also made 5 of his 6 attempts from the free throw line.
The first half was dominated by the physicality of both teams, but especially that of West Virginia’s. The Mountaineers attacked the basket hard early on, and didn’t get a bucket outside of the paint until Chase Harler made a three-pointer nearly seven minutes into the game.
Texas Tech’s offense struggled early, with a shot clock violation on their opening possession — the first of three for the half. Their first-half points mainly came from jump shooters like Davide Moretti, who made a trio of three-pointers to lead the Red Raiders for the half. Moretti finished as TTU’s leading scorer with 16 points.
The stark contrast in offensive strategies showed up in the first-half box score — WVU made half of their field goals, while TTU made just 36.4 percent (but 40 percent from three-point range).
West Virginia also gained a massive lead on the boards, grabbing 22 first-half rebounds to Texas Tech’s 12.
The Red Raiders came close early in the second half, with a bigger effort on the boards out the gate plus some offense to get within a bucket.
Before long, McBride would take the game over with his offense. 13 of his points came in the latter half to once again lead WVU in scoring.
“He was really good, even though he got sped up a little bit too fast,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “We were just trying to flatten it out and let him play.”
West Virginia also kept their advantage on the boards in the second half. They finished with a +13 margin at the final buzzer.
A good deal of that was due to the efforts of Oscar Tshiebwe, who grabbed 17 rebounds in addition to his 7 points. Derek Culver also contributed 7 boards and scored 9.
“I need to keep them on the floor offensively, although we didn’t capitalize today on using our size because we couldn’t get the ball to them,” Huggins said. “The ideal thing is one of them passes it to the other one, and they didn’t do a very good job today. That’s something we have to keep working on.
Texas Tech’s high-profile freshman, Jahmi’us Ramsey, was held to just 8 points, well below his 17.7-point average for the season before the contest, with a field goal percentage of just 20 percent.
After the win, Bob Huggins still saw a lot of room for growth, saying his team did “okay,” and not “great.”
“I guess, for the most part, we did okay with it,” he said of his team’s defensive effort. “But we have to become more consistent in a whole bunch of areas.”
This Mountaineer victory is their second in conference play, and their first Big 12 win at home. WVU moves to 12-2 on the season, while Texas Tech falls to 10-5, with a 1-2 mark in the Big 12.
West Virginia stays at home for their next contest when they host TCU on Tuesday at 9 p.m.