|Points Per Game||80.8||73.1|
|Field Goal %||42.3||43.6|
|Rebounds Per Game||39.6||37.7|
|Assists Per Game||15.4||13.4|
|Blocks Per Game||5.3||4.1|
|Steals Per Game||9.1||5.3|
Tip-Off: 7:00 pm est
Location: Ames, Iowa Hilton Coliseum
The #15 West Virginia Mountaineers (16-5 5-3) take on the Iowa State Cyclones (11-9 2-6) on their home court in Ames, Iowa.
The Mountaineers are 5-6 all-time versus the Cyclones, four of those wins for West Virginia came in the last two years. Iowa State stunned the Mountaineers in the Big XII Championship, 80-74.
Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm is in his third year in Ames. He is 58-32 and 24-20 in the Big XII. Prohm made it to the NCAA Tournament in his first two season, but in his third year, their post-season hopes are in jeopardy.
The Cyclones had to replace four seniors from last season and their growing pains hit them, losing four straight games at the start conference of conference play.
Freshman Forward Cameron (6’9” 225-lbs) Lard didn’t start against Tennessee Saturday in the Big XII/SEC challenge, due to a coach’s decision. He did play against the Volunteers, but his status for the game Wednesday night versus the Mountaineers is unclear, but he is expected to play.
Lard is a big presence in the paint, on both ends of the floor. He leads the team in rebounds with 7.1 per game. He has three double-doubles on the season, two coming in conference play (@Kansas, @Texas). Cameron is their enforcer on the defensive end, averaging 2.1 blocks per game.
Freshman guard Lindell Wigginton (6’2” 188-lbs) leads the team in scoring (15.9). He’s a versatile guard that will attack the rim and hit the deep ball. Lindell leads the team in three-point field goal percentage at 42.9%.
Senior guard Donovan Jackson (6’2” 173-lbs) is a spot shooter and has a knack for finding the open space on the floor averaging 15.4 points per game. He is hitting 41.1% from behind the arc.
Junior guard Nick Weiler-Babb (6’5” 205-lbs) is their point guard. He has been battling a knee injury all season and it’s shown in his inconsistency. When healthy he is one of the best guards in the league, averaging 11.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game.
Sophomore Forward Solomon Young (6’8” 245-lbs) does all the little things for the Cyclones. He does have the capability of hitting double figures, but that will mostly come from offensive rebounding. He can be a factor on the glass averaging 5.8 rebounds per game.
Senior Forward Hans Brase (6’9” 229-lbs) will start in place of Lard, if he is not going to start. He is only averaging 3.2 points per game but has come off the bench and his part on the boards averaging 3.2 per game.
Coming off the bench:
Senior Forward Jeff Beverly (6’6” 242-lbs) can provide some valuable minutes but has struggled in Big XII play. He has only seen the floor in five games once conference play started and has scored a total of 16 points.
Junior Forward Zoran Talley Jr (6’7” 190-‘bs) is averaging 8.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in the last four games.
Iowa State is not a deep team but playing three guards could help them against West Virginia’s full court pressure. Weiler-Babb is quick and likes to push the ball up the floor to get behind the defense. The Mountaineers must keep him in front of them or it could be a long night inside the Hilton Coliseum.
If Cameron Lard starts, he could have a huge game. He tends to show up during big games and has been a force in the paint all season. West Virginia Forward Sagaba Konate should be able to handle the freshman Lard but will need help from other Mountaineer Forwards Lamont West, Esa Ahmad, Teddy Allen and Wesley Harris to keep the Cyclones off the boards.
The Cyclones know how to move the ball on offense. The Mountaineers must play disciplined off the ball defense and not leave their man on the outside, because they will hit from three-point range.
West Virginia may be without Daxter Miles Jr due to an illness and even if he does play he will not be at 100%. This will be a big opportunity for sophomore guard Beetle Bolden that has not only provided a spark offensively for the Mountaineers but on the defensive end as well.
The Mountaineers need to find some production from forwards not named Konate. Esa hasn’t scored in two games and West has been in a shooting slump as of late. Teddy Allen hasn’t been the same since sitting for a few games.
Iowa State is not a physical team, this will be a good game for these forwards to get their confidence back.
The Cyclones upset Texas Tech a week and a half ago and they will be looking to do the same against the Mountaineers. West Virginia needs to figure out their second half woes if they want to avoid the upset in Ames.
I think depth will be an issue for the Cyclones and Beetle will prove that he deserves more minutes. I’ll take West Virginia in this one, because of the lack of defense by the Cyclones.
Mountaineers win 85-78.