MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton has been a match-up nightmare for opponents this season.
The 6-foot-5 guard leads the Cyclones (9-12, 2-6 Big 12) in scoring (15.7 points per game) rebounding (six) and assists (6.8). He also plays for almost the entire game, averaging 37.2 minutes per game. To contain Halibutron when ISU comes to Morgantown Wednesday night the Mountaineers (17-4, 5-3) will turn to their own mismatch guard.
At 6-foot-7, senior Jermaine Haley is bigger than just about any other guard he could be matched up against. Haley has started every game he has played this season at shooting guard, but he usually does not stay there for long. WVU coach Bob Huggins deploys Haley at nearly every position on the court.
“I know I’m going to touch most likely four spots each game on the floor at times so I just prepared myself to guard at each position and prepared myself offensively at each position,” Haley said. “That’s really how my game is, being versatile, so I’m used to it by now.”
Huggins said Haley would spend some time on Haliburton Wednesday night, citing Haley’s length and versatility in defending both on the perimeter and inside.
“I like guarding guys more my size,” Haley said of Haliburton. “We’re doing a good job in scouting, I’ve been watching a lot of film. He’s a great playmaker, he can be aggressive at times but I think he looks to get his teammates open first.”
On a West Virginia team that plays 12 guys deep, it is Haley’s versatility that helps him get onto the floor for 22.1 minutes per game (fourth highest on the team). Even though he is listed as a guard and starts a shooting guard, Haley’s time playing inside each game has his shooting percentage at 57.5%, second-best on the team behind only big man Oscar Tshiebwe. His 4.6 rebounds per game are third on the team, against trailing only WVU’s big men.
Even when he is guarding smaller, quicker guards on the perimeter, Haley said his length stills give him the advantage.
“I feel like I’m pretty fast,” Haley said. “I just use my length and, honestly, I don’t get too close to guys like that because, obviously, they are going to be quicker than me and if I do crawl up and in they’ll probably go past me. Just making guys score over me and, again, using my length makes it easier.”
Haley’s defense has been stout this season. He is second on the team with 23 steals, trailing only defensive specialist Gabe Osabuohien.
After playing the Cyclone Wednesday night, West Virginia will then travel to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the 14-8 Sooners. Tip-off for that game is set for 2 p.m.