LUBBOCK, Texas — Hands tucked into his tanned slacks, Bob Huggins turned away from the court action with a here-we-go-again expression.
He really wasn’t missing anything he hadn’t already seen too frequently this season.
Faced with an opportunity to climb out of the Big 12 cellar, the Mountaineers instead sank even lower into the depths of their own pit of frustrations, suffering an 81-50 loss at the United Supermarkets Arena.
West Virginia players argued with one another before looking to the bench for answers that would not come. The only thing noteworthy along the Mountaineers’ bench was reserve center Logan Routt being ejected from a game he never played in. He tangled legs with Texas Tech’s Matt Mooney after the guard came flying toward the sideline to contest a 3-pointer. After a video review, Routt was sent to the locker room by a Flagrant 2 for tripping.
“I didn’t see it personally, but two of our coaches did,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “Then the refs did a good job of finding the play.”
WVU forward Lamont West received a Flagrant 1 for shoving a Red Raider in the paint, and Brandon Knapper drew a technical for crowding Ray Natili as the referee signaled a foul to the scorer’s table.
Then there was the fact the Mountaineers (10-13, 2-8 Big 12) simply couldn’t score.
How bad was it? In the span of 23:10 that covered the end of the first half and the start of the second half, the Mountaineers recorded just two baskets.
West Virginia connected on just nine field goals.
“We’ve fallen into ruts like that, probably more than we should,” said guard Jordan McCabe, who scored the team’s first two baskets and finished with seven points. “It’s happened way too much. We’re way too good of a team to be missing all of those shots. Say what you want to say, but we had Beetle [Bolden] and Sags [Konate] sitting over there with braces on. That’s 80 percent of our scoring right there.”
Bolden, who is dealing with a high ankle sprain, and Konate, who has a right knee injury, traveled with the team but neither played.
West Virginia’s first-half effort was a comedy of errors that included Chase Harler nearly decapitating a fan sitting courtside with an errant pass and Wes Harris hitting the side of the backboard on a pull-up jumper.
In one futile stretch, the Mountaineers went nearly 15 minutes between baskets.
“We have a lot of obstacles to overcome,” said Huggins, whose team who fell to 0-6 on the road.. “I don’t think playing on the road is one of them, but we’ve got a lot of obstacles.”
Texas Tech responded after getting beat by 16 points at Kansas on Saturday.
“We didn’t have our best effort against Kansas, but that’s coaching too,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “We responded and we told each other the truth.
“We know West Virginia is a little undermanned right now and shorthanded and some of their best players are hurt. I think if West Virginia and Tech played 10 times, it would be 5-5 in my opinion. Tonight’s score is not a good representation. I think you have to give our players credit for responding when our backs were against the wall. I was not pleased in the way we played against Kansas. All you can do is respond. Tonight I thought we played much better.”
After McCabe scored on a pull-up jumper at the 16:11 mark of the first half, WVU went the next 14:54 before Derek Culver scored in the paint with 1:17 left.
By that time, Texas Tech’s held a 33-21 lead.
Whatever momentum was carried over from knocking off Oklahoma on Saturday lasted all of the first 10 minutes of the game.
After that, offensive fouls and turnovers began to mount.
West Virginia had 14 of them by the half, some of the miscues on seemingly non-complicated passes into the paint.
“We had 26 turnovers. We’re very generous,” Huggins said. “They’ll throw the ball to anybody. If you would have waved to them on press row, they probably would have thrown it to you. They’re very charitable.”
The Red Raiders (18-5, 6-4) capitalized by scoring on layups and dunks that led to 50-percent shooting (13-of-26) in the first half.
Texas Tech improved to 13-1 at the United Supermarkets Arena this season, as they held the Mountaineers to just 23.1 percent on 9-of 39 shooting. It was their lowest shooting percentage since shooting making 20 percent against Cincinnati in 2008.
Derek Culver was the lone bright for the Mountaineers. He posted his fifth double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds. That career-high scoring came on the strength of going 15-of-24 from the foul line. It was the most free throw attempts by a West Virginia player since 1922.
“I’ve never shot that many free throws in a game before,” Culver said. “I was blessed that my free throws were falling. Huggs makes us make 100 each day after practice. That has really helped me a lot.”
Texas Tech, which shot 30-of-57 overall (52.6 percent) from the floor, was paced by reserve guard Brandone Francis with 16 points. He fueled the Red Raiders’ 38-10 edge in bench scoring.
Jarrett Culver added 12 and David Moretti added 11 for the Red Raiders, who have won three straight in the series..