The defensive intensity and execution has to be better
Despite all that Tech did well in the first meeting with WVU, the harsh reality is that it was one of the worst defensive efforts we’ve seen from a Chris Beard team. After all, Tech allowed the Mountaineers to end the game by making their last 10 field goal attempts. To take it a step further, WVU scored on 11 of its final 13 possessions in the game.
Overall, Tech allowed the Mountaineers to shoot 57.7% from the floor and 12-19 (63.3%) from 3-point range. That simply can’t be the case tonight.
One important factor in the first meeting was that Tech found itself in foul trouble. Forward Micah Peavy fouled out while both Marcus Santos-Silva and Kevin McCullar had four fouls.
It was the four whistles on McCullar that loomed largest as it prompted Beard to take his best on-ball defender off of WVU’s Miles McBride (who had 24 points, including the game-winning bucket) and put Kyler Edwards on him. That was less than ideal for the Red Raiders as McCullar needs to be the one guarding the opposition’s best guard in key moments.
Tonight, Tech has to do a better job in two areas of defense. First, they have to stop McBride and the other WVU guards from being able to drive to the middle of the lane. Second, Tech has to keep in closer contact with the Mountaineer outside shooters as WVU got 36 points from beyond the arc last time these teams met.
Since going to a four-guard lineup after the departure of big man Oscar Tshiebwe, WVU has become increasingly difficult to guard. They’ve scored at least 80 points in three of their last four games and that’s due to excellent guard play.
But tonight, I expect Tech to put together a far better defensive effort being as the pride of the program was battered in Morgantown. It also seems highly unlikely that WVU will shoot as well tonight as they did in their home arena two weeks ago. Thus, look for Tech to treat this as a statement game and show the Mountaineers that defense is still the name of the game on the South Plains.