After a disappointing loss at Kansas on Saturday, the West Virginia men’s basketball team showed why it should still be taken seriously Monday night.

WVU demonstrated why it’s considered one of the best defensive teams in the nation.

The Mountaineers limited the Oklahoma State Cowboys to just 14-of-48 shooting from the field, including only 1-for-20 from 3-point range. The result was a 55-41 win in Stillwater that West Virginia sorely needed.

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Why Monday’s win was so big for the West Virginia men’s basketball team

The Cowboys in and of themselves weren’t a vaunted opponent. In fact, West Virginia sportsbooks had the Mountaineers as slight favorites heading into the match. The contest had tones of a “trap game” for West Virginia, however.

Not only was WVU coming off the aforementioned Big 12-opening loss on the Jayhawks’ home court, but they face the 22nd-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Mountaineers’ conference home opener on Saturday as well. Because of that, it was pertinent that West Virginia take care of Oklahoma State to avoid starting Big 12 play at 0-3.

Mission accomplished. Although WVU struggled on offense, as well. They went 19 of 49 from the floor and just 55% from the charity stripe. The Mountaineers also turned the ball over 20 times.

West Virginia center Oscar Tshiebwe reached double figures again, scoring 12 points. Freshman reserve Miles McBride continued to add to his developing story, adding 10 points.

It was far from a pretty win for WVU. In order to take down Texas Tech on Saturday, the Mountaineers have to replicate that defensive energy while being much more efficient on offense.

Slowing down Texas Tech’s raid

The Red Raiders currently rank 16th in the nation in assists per game, so clogging passing lanes will be crucial for West Virginia on Saturday. If WVU can force Texas Tech’s scorers to work to create their own shots, it will go a long way toward a second conference win.

One such scorer who might still be a problem is Jahmi’us Ramsey. He is shooting nearly 51% from the field so far this season.

On the other side of the court, the Red Raiders can be equally stout. Texas Tech’s opponents have averaged just 62.2 points per game.

Keeping Tshiebwe in double figures may not be a challenge but the Mountaineers have to shoot better. Getting a secondary scorer like Derek Culver into double figures would be a huge boost as well.

If West Virginia plays defense and rebounds to its capability, it should be in this one. Who wins will likely come down to making a handful of contested shots late.

Winning this one would be a great confidence boost. It might set the home team up for a great run as well.

Looking way too far ahead into the future

After this game, the schedule shows four winnable Big 12 games. Three of those contests are slated for Morgantown to boot.

When Bob Huggins‘ team sees Texas Tech again on the Red Raiders’ home court January 29, it could be 6-1 in conference play. Tshiebwe and company would have a lot of momentum as well.

Betting on college basketball in West Virginia

There is no denying that much of the attention these days is on betting on the NFL. However, nothing lights a fire in WV sports betting fans like the success of WVU, whether it be on the field or the hardcourt.

It’s too early in the week for the college basketball betting odds for this weekend’s game. WVU is ranked 17, while Texas Tech is ranked 22.

WVU got a needed win on Monday night in spite of its offense. Can the Mountaineers do that again on Saturday? The jury’s still out.

Derek Helling

About

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.