No. 14 West Virginia handled the No. 7 Texas Tech Red Raiders with an 82-71 victory on Tuesday night for its first road win against a top-10 Big 12 opponent since joining the conference.
WVU head coach Bob Huggins was impressed with the effort of the Mountaineers especially defensively.
“I have to give our guys credit, we switched defenses a couple of times and they did a great job,” Huggins said. “They did a better job defensively of knowing what to do than on offense at times.”
Over the past five games, senior guard Taz Sherman has averaged 14.8 points per game. Sherman scored a career-high 25 points against Kansas, but the Mountaineers were without the senior for their matchup with Texas Tech. In his absence, Sean McNeil stepped in and scored a career-high 26 points after shooting 5-of-7 from three-point range.
“We were running out of guys, so he (McNeil) was really important,” Huggins said of the play of McNeil. “I’m as pleased as I can be with how we played.”
Early in the second half, WVU junior forward Derek Culver picked up his fourth foul of the night and was placed on the bench. For 10 minutes, the Mountaineers were without their double-double averaging post player but were still able to produce and lead before Culver returned late in the game.
“I’m just trying to win, man,” Huggins said. “I’m trying to put the best people we have available out there to do what they can do. We need them all to guard, but we need them all to do what they can do. We’ll keep putting them out there as long as they produce.”
As a team, West Virginia shot incredibly well from the floor at 49%. The Mountaineers were potent from behind the arc, finishing 7-of-14 (50%) as well.
In a physical game like this one, West Virginia earned multiple invitations to the free throw line. The Mountaineers finished the game shooting 29-of-39 (74%) from the charity stripe. Culver led the team in attempts as he shot nine on the evening.
Culver has seen an increase in his shooting percentage from the foul line and Huggins credited a certain individual for that improvement.
“He (Culver) has one of the great instructors in all of basketball, and that’s me,” Huggins. “It’s neuromuscular integration and so you have to do it. You can’t go to sleep and decide that you’ve changed your shot. You have to work at it, and he’s worked at it.”
West Virginia faces No. 12 Oklahoma on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. Tip-off is at 1 p.m. on ESPN+.