MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Big 12 Conference has left none of its members unscathed, but no two teams have taken a bigger beating than West Virginia and Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers (11-8, 1-6 Big 12) and the Red Raiders (10-9, 0-7) occupy the bottom two spots in the league after combining for just one Big 12 win in 14 games. That tally will double on Wednesday night when the two teams square off in Lubbock at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Those records might not be pretty on paper, but they are a simple indication of the meatgrinder that is the Big 12 Conference: the toughest league in the land with the best collection of teams. WVU is especially proof of this, sitting at No. 30 in the NET rankings after taking all but one of its losses by single digits.
“We’re still right there, and I keep telling those guys that,” said WVU assistant coach Josh Eilert. “We’re 30 in the NET and there’s a lot of things that can go our way if we can get this thing turned.”
In order to get it turned, though, WVU needs to reclaim much of the progress it had made on offense. The Mountaineers lost 20 turnovers in its heartbreaker against No. 7 Texas on Saturday, which more than made the difference as the Longhorns turned those into 19 points — more than enough to make the difference in their eight-point win.
Eilert compiled the scout on the Red Raiders for West Virginia and emphasized how important it will be for the Mountaineers to take care of the basketball. The first-year assistant also scouted No. 14 TCU for WVU and made a similar note, and the Mountaineers stuck to it to earn their first Big 12 win.
“We really, really focused and nailed down our offense against TCU,” he said. “I think we slipped up against Texas, we didn’t have that mindset as much as we did against TCU and we’ve got to get back to cleaning up our offense and making sure we get really good looks and looks that we can rebound.”
WVU enters the Red Raiders’ United Supermarkets Arena at a disadvantage as they face one of the most energized crowds in the league. Eilert called the venue possibly the second-toughest they’ll set foot in this season, and they have plenty of talent that brings the crowd into the game.
Kevin Obanor is one of the league’s top scorers, notching 14.7 points per game, but freshman Pop Isaacs has emerged as one of the Red Raiders’ top sources of offense since tipping off Big play. The Las Vegas native averages 15.8 points against Big 12 foes while making 34 percent from behind the arc.
“He’s 100 percent got the green light,” Eilert said. “He’ll take a lot of shots out of their offense and he can score in a lot of different ways.”
Tip-off between the Red Raiders and the Mountaineers is set for 7 p.m. ET. The game will be shown on ESPN.