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PREVIEW: West Virginia – Texas Tech University Athletics

 


LUBBOCK, Texas – The second half of Big 12 Conference play begins with No. 16 Texas Tech hosting West Virginia at 8 p.m. on ESPN’s Big Monday for the second straight week at the United Supermarkets Arena. The game is sponsored by Andrus Brothers Roofing and is a rematch of a Jan. 2 contest where the Red Raiders earned a 62-59 win over the Mountaineers in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Texas Tech (17-5, 5-4 Big 12) is coming off a 79-63 loss at No. 11 Kansas, while WVU (10-12, 2-7 Big 12) secured a 79-71 win over Oklahoma on Saturday. The Red Raiders are 12-1 at home this season and are 45-5 on their home court under head coach Chris Beard who is in his third season leading the program. WVU is 12-4 all-time against Tech including a 66-63 win in last year’s Big 12 Championship, but the Red Raiders have won the past two meetings in Lubbock with Beard on the sidelines coming into Monday’s game.

The Red Raider defense continues to lead the Big 12 Conference by limiting opponents to 36.6 percent shooting, 57.8 points per game and to 27.5 percent on 3-pointers for the season. Tech is second in the conference with a 12.6 scoring margin advantage and 107 total blocked shots and is fourth offensively by shooting 46.5 percent from the field and fourth defensively with 7.1 steals per game.

PLAYER NOTES: Jarrett Culver leads the Red Raiders with 18.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game after a week where he had 10 points and six rebounds at Kansas after recording 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the win over TCU last Monday. Culver, who is third in the Big 12 in scoring behind only KU’s Dedric Lawson (19.5) and Iowa State’s Marial Shayok (19.2), was coming off a game against Arkansas where he knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 15 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals in the final non-conference game of the season. A sophomore from Lubbock, he had 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a season-high five steals in Big 12 play at Kansas State two weeks ago before hitting four 3-pointers against the Razorbacks matched a season-high that he also had against Duke and was one off of his career high from last year when he had five against Seton Hall. He has gone 0-for-12 over the past two games after going 0-for-6 on 3s against TCU and Kansas. Culver recorded his second double-double of the season with a career-high 16 rebounds and also 20 points against Iowa State and also had 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists against Texas on Jan. 12 following his first double-double of the season with 23 points and 13 points against Oklahoma. He has led the team in scoring in 16 of 22 games and is currently averaging 16.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists through nine conference games. Culver is on the John R. Wooden Award, Jerry West Award, Oscar Robertson Trophy and Lute Olson Award watch lists, was named to the Sporting News Midseason All-America second-team and earned Big 12 Preseason Honorable Mention honors. He has scored in double figures in 21 of 22 games and is shooting 50.5 percent from the field overall and 44.4 percent in Big 12 play. Culver recorded a career-high with 30 points against Abilene Christian on Dec. 20 where he went 12-for-13 from the field and hit four 3-pointers. He was named the Big 12 Player of the Week after the performance and followed it by going to New York and scoring 25 points against Duke. Culver comes into the second matchup against the Mountaineers having scored 813 career points in 59 games as a Red Raider.

Davide Moretti led the Red Raiders with 14 points after hitting three 3-pointers and going 5-for-5 at the free-throw line against Kansas on Saturday. He was 3-for-8 on 3-pointers against the Jayhawks and has now hit three 3-pointers in three straight games. Moretti recorded a career-high 21 points against Arkansas two weeks ago after going 6-for-9 from the field with three 3-pointers and followed it by establishing a new career-high with seven assists against TCU. Moretti also contributed 11 points against TCU and is now 9-for-18 on 3-pointers in the past three games. He’s currently 21-for-47 (44.7 percent) on 3-pointers in conference play. In his career-high scoring performance, he would add six points from the free-throw line and also had two assists against the Razorbacks. Moretti, who is averaging 13.0 points per game over the past five games, has scored in double figures in eight of nine Big 12 games this season. He has also scored 13 at Baylor after finishing with 10 points against Iowa State in the previous week. Moretti now has 360 points through 59 games in his career, including recording a previous career-high 19 points in the first matchup against Kansas State where he also matched a career-high with four rebounds. Moretti is averaging 12.2 points and 1.9 assists in conference play after his 14 in Lawrence. Against Texas, Moretti was 3-for-6 on 3-pointers and also led the Red Raiders with three steals. He started Big 12 play by hitting a 3-pointer with two minutes remaining to give the Red Raiders a 55-54 lead at West Virginia. Moretti finished the game at WVU with 12 points after hitting two 3-pointers to give him 15 for the season. Moretti has started all 22 games for the Red Raiders this season after making one start in 37 games played as a freshman. A coach’s son from Italy, Moretti is averaging 10.5 points and 2.3 assists per game in his second season with the program. He has registered 17-point performances in wins over Southern Cal and Mississippi Valley State and has two games with six assists in non-conference play. Moretti made a career-high five 3-pointers against MVSU and has scored in double figures in 11 games this season and 13 in his career. He currently leads TTU with 37 3-pointers and is shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc.

After losing five seniors off last season’s NCAA Elite Eight team, Texas Tech found a way to remain a veteran team through recruiting by adding graduate transfers Matt Mooney (University of South Dakota) and Tariq Owens (St. John’s) to go along with returners Norense Odiase and Brandone Francis to make up a senior class of four for the Red Raiders. Owens and Mooney were both named to the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award Watch List, making TTU the only team with two members on the list of 15.

Owens recorded his second double-double of the season on Saturday by scoring 12 points and adding 10 rebounds. He would have six offensive rebounds in the game and also had three blocked shots against the Jayhawks. An Odenton, Maryland native, Owens currently has 54 blocks this season after his ninth game with three or more blocks. He was coming off one of his best offensive games of the season after scoring 17 points against TCU where he was 7-for-9 from the field, including going 2-for-2 on 3-pointers. He is currently for sixth in program history for a single-season with those 54 blocks after passing Devonne Giles (2003-04) who had 51 in his career and is approaching Andy Ellis who had 55 blocks in the 2001-02 season. Tony Battie has the single-season record with 71 blocks in the 1996-97 season. Owens, who has had at least one block in all 22 games this season, came off the bench for the only time this season at Kansas State and responded by recording 12 points with two 3-pointers and six rebounds. He has scored in double figures in the past three Big 12 games and is currently averaging 9.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots through nine conference games. He currently has 22 blocks in Big 12 play and is fifth in the conference with a 58.2 shooting percentage. Owens, who led the BIG EAST in blocks the past two seasons while playing at St. John’s, established a new Texas Tech single-game record with eight blocks in the win over Memphis on Dec. 1 in Miami after starting his Red Raider career with six blocks against Incarnate Word in the season opener. Owens is averaging 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in his first season in Lubbock. He had a season-high 18 points against Southern Cal and recorded the team’s first double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in his eight-block performance against Memphis. Owens transferred to Tech after playing his freshman season at Tennessee and then two years at St. John’s. He came to Lubbock with 179 blocked shots and now has 233 in his career.

Mooney scored 18 points and added five assists in the win over TCU before going for 11 points and three assists at Kansas. His conference season has been highlighted by scoring a season-high 22 points against Texas where he was 8-for-10 from the field with three 3-pointers before his 7-for-12 performance against the Horned Frogs. He opened Big 12 play with 14 points in both games against KSU and WVU and is now averaging 10.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.1 assists per game in Big 12 play. He is currently third in the Big 12 with 1.6 steals overall per game for the season. An Illinois native, Mooney started his career at Air Force before playing two seasons at South Dakota where he led his team in scoring both years. He is shooting 44.1 percent from the field this season, has scored in double figures in 12 games and leads the team with 35 steals after having two at Kansas. Mooney transferred to Tech having recorded 1,480 points, 166 steals and 228 assists at Air Force and South Dakota. He now has 1,712 points, 201 steals and 291 assists in his collegiate career.

Odiase is in his fifth season at Texas Tech and has played in 112 games. He recorded seven rebounds against Kansas after having five against TCU and seven last Saturday against Arkansas. Odiase’s 19 rebounds in the past three games has him at 102 for the season and 498 in his career. He matched a season-high by scoring eight points against Oklahoma three weeks ago after going 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 at the free-throw line and then pulled down eight rebounds at Texas. A Fort Worth native, Odiase is averaging 3.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game and is shooting 53.7 percent from the field. He had a career-high 13 rebounds in the win over Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 13 after a 10-rebounds performance against Mississippi Valley State. Odiase scored seven points to go along with his seven rebounds against Duke after going 3-for-4 from the field. Along with his career rebounding total, he has scored 551 points as a Red Raider.

Francis had his best scoring performance of the season after going for 14 points with three 3-pointers two weeks ago at Baylor but was limited to three points against TCU and KU last week. He scored his season-high against the Bears by going 4-for-8 from the field and 3-for-5 from the free-throw line in the game. He was also 2-for-3 on 3-pointers in the game against OU and helped spark the Red Raiders to the win. A Dominican Republic native, he started his career at Florida before transferring to Lubbock where he averaged 5.1 points per game with 33 3-pointers as a junior during the Elite 8 run, including a career-high 17 points in the win over West Virginia. He’s currently averaging 5.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game and is tied with Mooney for third on the team with 20 3-pointers this season. Francis had a previous season-high 13 points in the opener against UIW and would contribute 10 points and a career-high six assists in the neutral-court win over Memphis. He has scored 305 points in 59 games in his career for the Red Raiders.

Kyler Edwards leads the TTU reserves with 6.1 points and 1.2 assists per game in his freshman season after scoring eight points with two 3-pointers against TCU and three at Kansas. Edwards has scored nine points in two conference games so far, first in the home game against KSU and then against Iowa State. A freshman from Arlington, he has scored nine or more points in eight games this season and has recorded four double-digit scoring performances. Edwards recorded a career-high 19 points against Northern Colorado where he went 7-for-7 from the field with four 3-pointers. Edwards is shooting 40.9 percent from the field with 16 3-pointers. Texas Tech sophomore Deshawn Corprew is averaging 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game after contributing six rebounds and five points against TCU. He followed that performance with three rebounds and three points against the Jayhawks. A transfer from South Plains College, he has played in 21 of 22 games including a career-night where he recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds against UTRGV. Corprew, who made his first career start in that game against UTRGV, was 6-for-8 from the field to match a previous career-high of 13 points that he also had against Northern Colorado. Corprew had three points and two rebounds against Arkansas. Texas Tech freshman Khavon Moore made his first appearance of the season against Iowa State with two minutes but has not played since. A Macon, Georgia native, Moore has been working through an injury that had sidelined him through the first 16 games of the season.

COVERING TECH: The Red Raiders will be hosting an ESPN Big Monday matchup for the second straight week after not playing in the game since taking on Texas on Feb. 6, 2006. The game in 2006 and the one on Monday will be called by Fran Fraschilla and sideline reporter Holly Rowe. ESPN’s Bob Wischusen will do play-by-play for the game in the return of Big Monday to Lubbock. On the radio, Geoff Haxton and Chris Level will broadcast on Texas Tech Sports Network’s flagship station Double T 97.3 in Lubbock. Fans can interact with the broadcast by following @GunsUpRadio on Twitter.

WEST VIRGINIA REPORT (WVU NOTES): The Mountaineers come into Monday’s game with a 10-12 overall record and are 2-7 in Big 12 play after knocking off Oklahoma on Saturday by a 79-71 margin in Morgantown. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for WVU which has lost 8 of 10 coming. Brandon Knapper led the Mountaineers with 25 points against the Sooners after knocking down four 3-pointers and going 7-for-10 from the field. Derek Culver and Wesley Harris added 13 points each, while Esa Ahmad had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Culver also had a double-double with a team-leading 14 rebounds to go along with his 13 points.

Ahmad leads the Mountaineers this season by averaging 12.4 points per game, while Culver tops the team with 8.1 rebounds. A freshman from South Charleston, West Virginia, Knapper is averaging 5.5 points per game where he has made only one start. He has now scored in double figures in four games this season with his previous career-best coming in a 15-point effort against Baylor. Knapper played only eight minutes in the first matchup and did not score against Tech. Culver has now recorded four double-doubles through 12 games play. A freshman from Ohio, Culver had 12 points and eight rebounds in the loss to the Red Raiders in the first game, while Lamont West had 22 after hitting four 3-pointers and going 6-for-9 from the field. West is averaging 10.5 points per game for the Mountaineers coming into the rematch against Tech.

West Virginia will return to action on Saturday when it hosts Texas at the WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers are currently 0-5 on the road this season and 2-8 when you combine neutral-court games. The team is 0-4 in road games in conference play with losses at Texas, Kansas State, TCU and Iowa State. 

UP NEXT: Texas Tech will return to action against Oklahoma at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. The Red Raiders earned a 66-59 win over OU back on Jan. 8 with Culver leading the way with 23 points and 13 rebounds at the USA. The Sooners (15-7, 3-6 Big 12) also host Iowa State on Monday before the game against the Red Raiders.

 





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