Mountaineers hit road to challenge 19th-ranked Longhorns
Austin, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Big 12 Conference rivals square off on Saturday night, as the West Virginia Mountaineers come calling on the 19th- ranked Texas Longhorns.
Save for a big win here or there, West Virginia has had a rather unremarkable season by going 15-10 overall and 7-5 in conference. The Mountaineers have won four of their last five games however, including a 102-77 rout of visiting Iowa State this past Monday. Still, WVU is just 3-5 in true road game, and has dropped three of its last four on enemy hardwood.
Texas has quietly gone about its business in 2013-14, winning 19 of its 24 games played, including eight of 11 Big 12 bouts. The Longhorns have been victorious in eight of their last nine, that coming on the heels of a four- game stretch in which they lost three times. UT, which is an impressive 13-2 at home, is fresh off an 87-68 rout of visiting Oklahoma State on Tuesday. The win was aided by the fact that the Cowboys were without suspended star Marcus Smart.
The series between these two programs is knotted at 3-3, but the Mountaineers have won three games in the Lone Star State already this season, and are 6-1 there all-time.
West Virginia is a solid offensive team, averaging a healthy 79.4 ppg in hitting 44.9 percent of its total shots, which includes a 38.5 percent showing from 3-point range. The team boasts three double-digit scorers, led by Juwan Staten and his 18.3 ppg. One of the top all-around performers in the Big 12, Staten is shooting a lofty 51.5 percent from the field, while also serving as the team's primary playmaker with 6.0 apg, not to mention grabbing 5.9 rpg. Eron Harris isn't far off the pace, as he nets 17.4 ppg thanks to a club-best 69 3-pointers. Terry Henderson (12.2 ppg) rounds out the trio, who were all productive in the recent win over Iowa State.
Staten put forth another complete effort as he finished with 19 points, nine assists and seven boards, trailing only the season-high 20 points from Remi Dibo, who hit six of the team's 13 3-pointers on the night. Harris and Henderson tacked on 16 points apiece for the Mountaineers, who shot 53.8 percent from the floor, including a 59.1 percent effort from distance. Conversely, Iowa State shot just 36.6 percent from the field, missing the mark on 19 of its 23 3-point tries along the way. The Cyclones did manage to post a 44-34 rebounding advantage, but they committed 14 turnovers compared to only eight for WVU.
Texas is comparable to its counterpart tonight in terms of offensive production, as it turns in 76.5 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .436 overall and .337 from beyond the arc, while at the same time permitting 69.8 ppg with foes shooting just 39.7 per from the floor and 33.9 percent from downtown. The Longhorns are in the black in rebounding, winning the battle on the boards by an average of 7.7 rpg. There are four players presently putting up double digits in the scoring column, led by Jonathan Holmes (13.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg). The other three (Isaiah Taylor, Javan Felix, Cameron Ridley) net between 10.9 and 12.5 ppg, with Ridley (8.1 rpg, 55 blocks) controlling the paint, and Taylor (3.6 apg) running the point.
Felix drained six treys en route to 27 points, as he led the Longhorns to their recent win over Oklahoma State. Support came from Taylor (16 points, five assists), Ridley (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Martez Walker (12 points), and the team as a whole knocked down 11-of-23 3-point attempts on the way to an overall shooting percentage of .473. Oklahoma State managed just a 35.6 percent shooting effort, which included a poor 5-of-19 performance from long range.