After beating Oklahoma State to build their overall record to 13-2, the WVU Mountaineers hit a tough stretch in the schedule. They are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and will try to snap it on Wednesday night against Oklahoma.
While losing three in a row is never ideal, the schedule makers didn’t do the Mountaineers any favors.
The three defeats came at the hands of No. 9 Kansas, No. 5 Baylor and No. 18 Texas Tech. They are the top three teams in the Big 12 Conference, and each appears to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
While the contest against Kansas was lopsided, WVU held its own in the other two.
It had the lead against Baylor at home with around nine minutes left before the Bears pulled away. Then, on the road at Texas Tech, the Mountaineers held an advantage on the scoreboard with around six minutes remaining.
Despite the poor results, coach Bob Huggins’ side has shown plenty of fight.
WVU can earn its 14th victory of the year when it hosts OU on Wednesday. It’s likely to be favored at West Virginia sportsbooks to take down the Sooners before Saturday’s matchup with the SEC’s Arkansas.
Mountaineers lose third straight to Texas Tech
Even though they were around eight-point underdogs heading into the tilt in Lubbock, the Mountaineers looked ready for the upset.
They trailed by just two at the half and took a slim lead with a little more than six minutes left on the clock. The Red Raiders hit three shots from beyond the arc in consecutive possessions to build their lead to nine.
WVU closed to within six with about two minutes to play, but it couldn’t get any closer.
Tech’s win improved its record to 15-4 on the season, with a 5-2 mark in the conference. It’s now won five of the last six outings, including wins over Kansas and Baylor.
The Red Raiders’ Terrence Shannon Jr. topped everyone in terms of points with 23. He wasn’t the only one scoring for his side, though, as several others contributed.
Senior forward Kevin Obanor added 18, with Bryson Williams putting in 13 points on only eight shots.
Taz Sherman performed well in this one, pacing the Mountaineers with 21. The only other player to reach double digits was guard Malik Curry, who recorded seven of his 11 points from the free-throw stripe.
Taking care of the ball was a real issue for WVU all game long. It committed 17 turnovers, compared to creating only six assists as an entire team. It’s tough to win any game with that type of discrepancy.
Another area the Mountaineers fell short in was rebounding. As per most games this season, they lost in this department by 10 to Tech.
With 10 more rebounds and eight fewer turnovers, the Red Raiders had 18 more possessions than WVU. That can translate to a big difference in a basketball game that is within a few points coming down the stretch.
WVU basketball odds at WV sportsbooks
Now, WVU must turn its attention to Oklahoma and the game on Wednesday evening. Although sportsbooks in WV don’t feature odds for this one just yet, the Mountaineers are the likely favorites, especially at home.
OU enters this one on a losing streak as well. It’s lost four straight and now finds itself with a 2-5 record in the Big 12.
Similar to the Mountaineers, the Sooners’ struggles are due in large part to an impossible schedule. Three of these recent defeats occurred against Baylor, Kansas and Texas.
Oklahoma’s schedule at the moment is incredibly difficult. It’s faced Baylor twice already and goes on to play No. 1 Auburn this weekend.
WVU will need to show up, because the Sooners know this is a game they can win.
Their last triumph came on Jan. 8 against No. 11 Iowa State. The Sooners put together a huge second half to knock off the Cyclones in Norman.
They’re led by two seniors, forward Tanner Groves and guard Umoja Gibson. Both average more than 12 points per tilt; however, the team sees scoring from multiple options.
Three others are scoring over nine points, including OU’s leading rebounder, Jalen Hill.
Oklahoma could certainly be feeling some pressure to get better results, considering it was 11-2 through 13 games. It is now in the basement of the conference, tied with Iowa State and Kansas State at 2-5.
Despite its mediocre record, OU is capable of beating quality opponents. It took down three different ranked teams this season: ISU, No. 12 Arkansas and No. 14 Florida.
Unfortunately for its tournament resume, Iowa State is the only one of these that remain ranked, at No. 23.
The odds for this one will be released either Tuesday night or closer to the start of the game. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Mountaineers have about a 72% chance of coming away with a win.
They lost to OU twice a year ago, with the two contests being decided by a combined five points.