McBride, WVU top Red Raiders
MORGANTOWN (AP) — Miles McBride took over when the shots weren’t falling for West Virginia.
McBride scored a season-high 22 points, fellow freshman Oscar Tshiebwe added 17 rebounds and No. 17 West Virginia beat 22nd-ranked Texas Tech 66-54 on Saturday night.
It marked the second time in two weeks that McBride gave West Virginia a huge lift. The Cincinnati native scored 21 points in a win over No. 11 Ohio State on Dec. 29.
He also scored a team-high 18 points in a Nov. 26 win over Northern Iowa.
“I work hard on my shot every day. After practice, before practice, I’m always there trying to perfect my craft and it was just falling down tonight,” McBride said. “I just knew my range was something I worked on a lot, and I just go to it.”
The Mountaineers don’t have a go-to scorer and have had to rely on streaky shooters at times. Six different players have led West Virginia in scoring this season. McBride is fourth on the team, averaging 9.2 points per game.
“He’s not afraid. That’s the biggest thing,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.
The Mountaineers (13-2, 2-1 Big 12) continued a remarkable turnaround by surpassing their win total (12) from last season, when they finished last in the league.
Brandon Knapper added 10 points for West Virginia, which never trailed but allowed the Red Raiders to keep it close thanks to 21 turnovers and 12 missed free throws.
Davide Moretti led Texas Tech (10-5, 1-2) with 16 points. The Red Raiders have dropped two straight, including a home loss to No. 4 Baylor on Tuesday night.
McBride revived an offense that went without a field goal for nearly the first 5 minutes of the second half. He sank a pair of jumpers and then had a steal and layup over a two-minute span. He later hit another jumper to give the Mountaineers a 50-38 lead with 9 minutes remaining.
Texas Tech missed six straight shots, then found a gap in West Virginia’s normally fortified defense and tried to mount a comeback with little help from its two best scorers. Freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey and Moretti had a basket apiece over the final 15 minutes.
Chris Clarke, Kyler Edwards and Kevin McCullar all made layups, and Avery Benson’s 3-pointer pulled the Red Raiders within 52-46 with 7 minutes remaining. But they got no closer.
“The game plan goes out the door when you can’t score,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I thought we played decent defense tonight but we just were really bad on the offensive end.”
Texas Tech: Ramsey, who had scored in double figures in nine of his 10 previous games, was held to eight points on 3 of 14 shooting. Aside from Moretti, the rest of the Red Raiders went 15 of 56 (27%) from the floor. Texas Tech was forced to take an abundance of 3-pointers but made just 6 of 28 (21%).
“You can’t win a Big 12 game when you have one guy on your roster that makes 50% of his shots,” Beard said.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers, with Derek Culver and Tshiebwe anchoring the defense from the inside, have held opponents to 36% percent shooting from the floor, and Texas Tech was the latest victim. It was the start of six home games over an eight-game stretch for the Mountaineers.
It marked Tshiebwe’s fourth game this season with 17 or more rebounds. The former McDonald’s All-American entered the game third in the Big 12 at 9.3 rebounds per game. Culver leads the league at 9.8. West Virginia had a 43-30 rebounding advantage over Texas Tech.
West Virginia starting forward Emmitt Matthews is mired in a five-game slump. The sophomore, who has six games scoring in double figures this season, was held to three points.
He has 12 points total over his past five games in which he’s shot 4 of 25 (16%) from the floor.
West Virginia could improve a few spots after a 2-0 week. Texas Tech likely will drop from the poll for the second time this season.
Texas Tech: Plays at Kansas State on Tuesday.
West Virginia: Hosts TCU on Tuesday as well.