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Texas Tech Plans To Shake Up Playing Time Against West Virginia

Mark Adams will rely more on his bench players following the Red Raiders' seven-game losing streak.

Mark Adams is willing to try anything at this point to get Texas Tech men's basketball back on track following its recent struggles. This includes changing up his coaching style both in games and at practice. 

Adams told reporters he intends to ease up on practice a bit to keep the Red Raiders more active in the second half of games. The second-year coach also said that he plans on rotating more players following halftime to keep the team's legs fresh on the court. 

“We seemed a little bit rundown at times," Adams said earlier this week. "I’m old school and when things aren’t going well — you just work and you work. And maybe we’ve been working these guys a little bit too hard in some of these practices."

The Red Raiders (10-9, 0-7 Big 12) are currently on their longest losing streak since 2015. Despite keeping games close against then-No. 18 TCU (67-61), then-No. 3 Kansas (75-72), Oklahoma (68-63 OT), and No. 10 Texas (72-70), Texas Tech has yet to pick up a win in 2023. 

Expectations in Lubbock remain the same. A second-half surge from the program could be enough to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament in March. Adams, however, isn't thinking about March Madness. His focus is simply on winning against West Virginia (11-8, 1-6 Big 12) Wednesday evening at United Supermarkets Arena.

”Any win, would be, obviously, a welcome to us all right now,” said Adams. ”We’re frustrated and we know we need to get a win. If you look at the situation right now, if we put two or three wins together, then we’re on the bubble in the NCAA Tournament. 

“That’s (the) encouraging thing about it. I think you could get in with seven wins (in the Big 12 Conference) right now. We just gotta find a way to get to seven wins.”

The Mountaineers have always been known for their physical defensive play under longtime coach Bob Huggins. Much like the Red Raiders, West Virginia has played teams close, but hasn't been able to get over the hump since the start of the new season, losing four of its last six games by fewer than 10 points. 

The Red Raiders will be tasked with stopping forward Tre Mitchell and guard Erik Stevenson. Mitchell, a senior transfer from Texas, currently leads the Mountaineers in scoring (13.1 points per game) and ranks second in rebounds (5.9 per game). Stevenson, a senior transfer from South Carolina, is averaging 12.9 points per game, while Jimmy Bell leads the team in boards with 6.1 per game. 

"They’re physical, they play bully ball,” Adams said of West Virginia. ”That’s what they like to do and they’re going to be great on both the offensive and defensive glass. So we’ll try to match their intensity.”

The hope for Adams is that rotating players will lessen the fatigue in the final 20 minutes. This means that Pop Isaacs, De’Vion Harmon and Kevin Obanor might lead the team in points, but their minutes should decrease in order to pick up a win. 

Adams knows the team's significant concerns are found in the second half. Since the start of conference play, the Red Raiders are 0-3 in matchups where they enter halftime holding the lead. 

Whether the shift of minutes comes in the first half Wednesday or following a 15-minute break, Adams is willing to mix things up to capture his first win since Dec. 27. Whether or not the outcome changes remains to be seen. 

“One thing we’re trying to do is keep their legs fresh these last couple of days," Adams said. "So, at least, going into those last four or five minutes those guys have some energy to finish the game.”

Tip-off from United Supermarkets Arena is set for 6 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU. 

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