West Virginia Oklahoma St Basketball

West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe is defended by Oklahoma State forward Yor Anei, left, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

MORGANTOWN — The last time West Virginia saw Texas Tech in the flesh, they attacked the Red Raiders like flesh eating bacteria, eliminating them from the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, 79-74, behind Emmitt Matthews Jr’s. 28 points.

The next time they saw them it was a whole different scenario, for WVU was sitting at home eliminated from some pay to play post-season tournament known as the CBI. They were watching Texas Tech playing Virginia for the national championship.

Now they meet again, this time in the Coliseum at 6 p.m. Saturday with ESPN2 on site and there may not be as much at stake as there was in the Big 12 Tournament for WVU or the NCAA Final for Texas Tech, but nonetheless this is a huge regular season confrontation.

Texas Tech comes in with four losses already and can ill afford another at this stage of the season while WVU would get a big bounce in the rankings should they add a victory over the national runner-up to their resume.

The two teams have been completely made over, both riding the shoulders of big time freshmen.

WVU fans are well acquainted with Oscar Tshiebwe, WVU’s five-star frosh who is averaging almost at double-double with 12.2 points and 9.3 rebounds a game while the Red Raiders lean heavily on Jahmius Ramsey, a 6-4 guard who averages 17.7 points a game and 5.3 rebounds a game.

“Ramsey is really good. There are people saying he may be the best freshman in the country. That’s pretty high praise,” Huggins said.

The four losses that Texas Tech have are connected to a hamstring injury that put him out for a while.

“Ramsey obviously got a lot of shots up when he was out,” Huggins said. “He had the hamstring, but I don’t think that kept him from shooting in the gym.”

Now, the Mountaineers are hoping to get Emmitt Matthews Jr. back and to come out of his shell and get some kind of facsimile of his performance against the Red Raiders in the Big 12 Tournament.

After getting off to a fast start this season, Matthews has flattened out of late.

Over the last four games he has hit 3 of 21 shots, 14.3 percent, 0 of 9 from 3 with 12 rebounds, one assist and four turnovers. He has scored only nine points over the four games.

What has happened?

“A lot of it is confidence,”Huggins said. “It’s amazing when the ball goes in what happens with your confidence.

“He shot it well early. He was one of the guys carrying us. Then he just started missing shots. He’s missing everything short, not getting it over the rim. For the most part it’s on line, it’s just not going over.”

Matthews says he believes his shot and his confidence are returning.

“My confidence over the past few games is still there. I feel I’m just in a little bit of a slump,” he said. “I’ve been hitting shots over the past few days and I think being able to see it go in over the past few days will translate over to the game.”

Matthews expects a dogfight.

“It’s going to be a 40-minute game,” he said. “They’re different, but they are still the same. They still have the same coaches and the same intensity and a lot of good recruits coming in.”

Texas Tech Coach Chris Beard has done a big time job with the Red Raiders.

“It’s a vintage Chris Beard team,” Huggins said. “They run great offense, they make you score over top of them, they don’t turn anyone loose to the basket. They have great patience offensively and they have people who consistently make perimeter shots.

“They just don’t have the great shot blocker they had a year ago.”

Last year they also had their own Culver, Jarrett, and he was tough on the Mountaineers, scoring 18, 12 and 26 in the three games against West Virginia.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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