WVU looks to go 2-0 in Big 12 action
MORGANTOWN-If West Virginia is going to avoid the basement of the Big 12 Conference this year in men’s basketball, it is going to have to continue to win on the road.
The Mountaineers (9-5, 1-0 Big 12) survived a scare before pulling out a 74-69 victory at TCU (9-4, 0-1 Big 12) in their season opener in conference play. Junior point guard Juwan Staten took over the game late, scoring 12 of his 15 points in the second half, as West Virginia got out of Fort Worth with a victory.
“He (Staten) had the ball the whole time, which is what we wanted,” veteran head coach Bobby Huggins said following his team’s ninth win in 14 outings. “He does a great job of getting it into the lane and getting tothe basket and he’s hard to stay in front of.”
Sophomore guard Eron Harris, who came off the bench after missing some practice time this week with the flu, led the Mountaineers with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field. Freshman Devin Williams scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds while fellow freshman Nathan Adrian contributed nine points and six rebounds-most coming in the first half.
Texas Tech (8-6, 0-1 Big 12) is coming off of a 73-62 loss to No. 13 Iowa State.
The Raiders received 20 points from senior forward Jaye Crockett, who also added 11 rebounds to finish with his 15th career double-double. Crockett is closing in on some personal milestones as the Mountaineers come to town. The senior currently has 983 points and is just 17 shy of reaching the 1,000-point plateau. He will become the 36th member of the 1,000-point club at Tech.
Tonight’s 7 p.m. showdown will be the third meeting between Huggins and Tech head coach Tubby Smith. The two first squared off against each other when Smith was at Kentucky and Huggins was leading Cincinnati.
The duo has combined to win 1,241 games-Smith has won 519 in 23 seasons while Huggins has 732 in 32 seasons on the sideline-but, Smith holds a 2-0 mark against Huggins.
Rebounding will again be key to a Mountaineer victory as the old gold and blue finished with a 38-30 edge on the boards in the win over TCU on Saturday.
“We haven’t rebounded the ball the way we need to rebound the ball and we’re still not scoring it around the goal the way we need to score it around the goal, but we are rebounding it and giving ourselves chances,” said Huggins.
In all likelihood, Huggins will go with a starting lineup which includes Harris (18.6 ppg), Staten (16.2) and Terry Henderson (10.9) at guards with either Brandon Watkins (3.2), Devin Williams (9.8), Remi Dibo (7.8) or Adrian (6.1) at the forwards.
Texas Tech will counter with Crockett (14.1 ppg) and junior Jordan Tolbert (12.5) at the forwards, junior Robert Turner (9.4) and sophomore Dusty Hannahs (7.7) at the guards and seven-footer Dejan Kravic (6.4) at center.
WVU will again try to utitlize its deep bench to wear down the Raiders as juniors Gary Browne (6.7) and Kevin Noreen (2.4) as well as sophomores Tyrone Hughes and Richard Romeo will see action on the court.
Should Smith go to his bench, look for Toddrick Gotcher (6.1), Aaron Ross (5.6), Randy Onwuasor (3.8), Kader Tapsoba (3.0) and Jamal Williams (2.8).
WVU swept both regular season meetings with the Raiders last season, winning by a 77-61 score on the road and 66-64 in Morgantown. However, Tech eliminated the Mountaineers from the Big 12 tournament with a 71-69 victory.
- The game will be televised as part of the Big 12 Network/ESPN3 with Matt Schick doing the play-by-play and Bob Valvano providing the analysis.