WVU basketball teams face major tests today

PARKERSBURG -Challenges.

The West Virginia University basketball programs face a pair of major tests today.

First up is the Mountaineer men (8-8), who will visit Big 10 member Purdue (9-8) in a 2 p.m. contest that will be regionally televised by CBS.

Come Saturday night, the West Virginia women (11-5) will be in Waco, Texas, to take on No. 1-ranked Baylor (15-1) in a Big 12 Conference game that will tipoff at 8 p.m.

Coach Bob Huggins’ men’s team will be making its second road trip in four days. The Mountaineers gave a great effort on Wednesday night before losing a Big 12 Conference game at Iowa State, 69-67. Now, with just two days rest and playing an afternoon game, WVU must be ready for a Purdue team that is on a two-game winning streak, having beaten Penn State (60-42) and Nebraska (65-56), the latter also a Wednesday night road game.

Purdue represents WVU’s last non-conference contest as the final 14 games of the season all are against Big 12 competition.

The Mountaineers are led by a pair of double-digit scorers in guard Juwan Staten (10.3 points per game) and center Aaric Murray (10.0). WVU hopes to have the services of Terry Henderson, the team’s third-leading scorer at 8.5 points per game.

Henderson was unable to play in Wednesday’s game against Iowa State.

Purdue is led by 6-2 junior guard Terone Johnson, who averages 13.4 points per game. The Boilermakers have two other double-digit scorers in 7-foot freshman center A.J. Hammons (10.6) and senior swing player D.J. Byrd (10.1). The Boilermakers don’t lack for height as half-a-dozen roster members stand 6-foot-8 or taller.

The challenge presented by Purdue, while formidable, doesn’t compare to the one that will face the WVU women. It will be the 14th time the West Virginia program has played the nation’s top-ranked team and the Mountaineers still are looking for their first win.

Plus, Baylor isn’t just your typical, run-of-the-mill No. 1. It returns all five starters from last year’s team that went 40-0 and won the national title. It is led by senior Brittney Griner, who averages 21.6 points per game. Odyssey Sims and Brooklyn Pope score at rates of 12.3 and 11.5, respectively.

Baylor is defeating its opponents by an average of 30.1 points per game. The Bears only loss came during their November trip to Hawaii when Stanford stunned Baylor, 71-69. Other perennial national powers who have challenged the Bears haven’t fared as well as Baylor won at Notre Dame, 73-61, and beat Tennessee, 76-53.

Mountaineer fans who want to see the Bears will get an opportunity to do so on March 2 when Baylor visits the Coliseum in Morgantown for a 7 p.m. contest.