WVU, Texas Tech both need win today

LUBBOCK, Texas -What -other than being members of the Big 12 Conference -do the men’s basketball programs at West Virginia University and Texas Tech have in common?

Both enter today’s 1:30 p.m. EST game at the United Spirit Arena with 2-5 league records.

To say that both programs are struggling and desperately in need of a win might not be kind, but it would be accurate.

West Virginia (9-11 overall) enters the game having lost five of its last six contests. The Mountaineers went 2-6 in the month of January, including a Monday night 61-56 loss to Kansas at the Coliseum in Morgantown.

Texas Tech (9-9 overall), meanwhile, also has lost five of its last six, including a 16-point setback last Saturday at Texas.

West Virginia is likely to start a pair of seniors -Deniz Kilicli and Dominique Rutledge -two sophomores in Juwan Staten and Gary Browne, and a freshman, Eron Harris.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, has no senior starters. Rather, it will go with a pair of juniors, 6-11 forward Dejan Kravis and 6-4 guard Jamal Williams, a sophomore in 6-7 forward Jordan Tolbert, and two freshmen guards , 6-4 Dusty Hannahs and 6-1 Josh Gray.

Ironically, both teams possess one player with a double-digit scoring average, but neither is likely to start as both West Virginia junior Aaric Murray (10.0) and Texas Tech junior Jaye Crockett (12.7) are expected to come off the bench.

Although WVU and Texas Tech now are Big 12 rivals, their only previous meeting took place in the 2005 Sweet 16 at Albuquerque, N.M., where the Mountaineers won, 65-60, behind 22 points from Kevin Pittsnogle.

While WVU and Texas Tech have been strangers, they will become quite familiar with one another as the two teams will meet twice in a 15-day period as the Red Raiders will make a return trip to Morgantown on Saturday, Feb. 16.

West Virginia will be playing its sixth road game of the season. In their five previous games conducted on the opponent’s home court, the Mountaineers have just one win, a 57-53 triumph over Texas on Jan. 9. Since that time, WVU has lost road games versus Iowa State, Purdue and Oklahoma State.

Texas Tech is quite beatable at home as its worst loss of the season -an 82-48 Big 12 spanking inflicted by Baylor on Jan. 8, took place at the United Spirit Arena. It is 1-2 in home Big 12 games, having also lost to Kansas (60-46) while defeating Iowa State (56-51).

The Red Raiders are coached by Chris Walker.