Texas Tech basketball: Red Raiders pick up tough road win at WVU

Feb 5, 2022; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins talks with Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (1) after the game at WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2022; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins talks with Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (1) after the game at WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports /

It was another Big 12 cage match in West Virginia on Saturday.  Fortunately, the Texas Tech basketball team landed the knockout blow late in the 60-53 Red Raider victory, just the second all-time win for Tech in Morgantown.

Bryson Williams led the Red Raiders with 15 points while Kevin McCullar added 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds as the Red Raiders moved to 18-5 on the season and 7-3 in league play.  But it was the play of freshman Daniel Batcho that put West Virginia away for good.

Playing key minutes down the stretch due to Williams having four fouls and Kevin Obanor being largely ineffective for most of the game, the 7-foot transfer from Arizona put his stamp on the game.  Scoring six points and blocking a key shot in the final 4:18 of play, Batcho proved to be a difference-maker when his team was clinging to a hard-fought two-score lead.  His six points on the day were a season-high in Big 12 play but the second time he’s hit that mark in Tech’s last three games after he also hit that number against Mississippi State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge a week ago.

But the way the game started, it didn’t appear that Tech would be in a position to put this game on ice late.  That’s because West Virginia jumped out to an 11-2 lead to open the game.  And though Tech would claw back to take a lead in the first 20 minutes, they would trail by six at the break 32-26, after playing one of their worst halves of basketball this season.

At that point, it was fair to wonder if Tech was suffering from the dreaded hangover following Tuesday’s emotional home win over Chris Beard and the Texas Longhorns.  After all, Tech looked sluggish, tentative, and sloppy in the game’s opening half despite playing a WVU team that was without its leading scorer, Taz Sherman, who sustained a concussion in the Mountaineers’ previous game.

Fortunately, the second half was a different story.  And one of the biggest differences came at the free-throw line.  After shooting only two free throws in the first half (making one), Tech would go 11-12 at the line in the second half, a key in helping the Red Raiders survive on an afternoon when they shot just 4-21 (19%) from 3-point range.

It also helped that Tech was able to put a clamp on WVU’s Jalen Bridges after the intermission.  In the first half, the WVU guard was on fire scoring 16 points on 5-8 shooting, which included 4-5 from 3-point range.

But in the second 20 minutes, Bridges was held scoreless as he would go 0-3 from the field.  And without his scoring punch, the Mountaineers would score only 21 points and shoot 4-32 (12.5%) from the floor in the second half.

Still, Tech had to survive a feisty effort from the Mountaineers who stayed in the game thanks to 17-21 (81%) shooting at the free-throw line.  What’s more, the Red Raiders had to survive two big scares on the injury front.

In the first half, star forward Terrence Shannon Jr. appeared to sustain a knee injury after an awkward landing following a dunk in traffic.  He would leave the game being carried off the court and not putting any weight on the injured leg as it appeared he may have sustained a major injury.  But he would return in the second half to play 14:01 while giving Tech seven points and three boards as part of a nine-point, 3-rebound performance.

However, forward Adonis Arms would not return to the game after also landing awkwardly after a dunk attempt that was blocked at the rim.  Arms appeared to land hard on his right side and he was seen holding his hip in the moments immediately after the play.  He did return to the bench after being examined by the team trainers but he would not come back onto the floor.

It was an important win for the Red Raiders and just their second true road victory on the season.  The Red Raiders kept within striking distance of Kansas for the lead in the Big 12 race, trailing the Jayhawks by two games in the loss column as of the time of this article’s publishing.

It was also an impressive statement by the Red Raiders to prove that they have the maturity and focus required to follow up a huge win the likes of which they scored on Tuesday against the Horns with a win over a team at the bottom of the Big 12 standings in West Virginia.  But it wasn’t easy and it required contributions from just about every player that took the floor on Saturday.