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The Mountaineers Look to get Back on Track Against the Longhorns

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Team Stats

Points Per Game 73.1 81.2
Points Against 65.4 65.7
Field Goal % 44.9 42.9
Rebounds Per Game 37.6 39.6
Assists Per Game 11.9 15.5
Blocks Per Game 6.1 5.2
Steals Per Game 5.9 9.7
Streak W1 L2

 

 

Tip-Off: 2:00pm est

TV: CBS

Location: Morgantown, WV  The Coliseum

 

The #6 West Virginia Mountaineers (15-3 4-2) host the Texas Longhorns (12-6 3-3) Saturday afternoon.

This will be the 16th meeting between the two basketball programs.  The Mountaineers are 7-8 all-time versus the Longhorns and 6-6 since joining the Big XII.  West Virginia is currently on a three-game winning streak against Texas.

Texas head coach Shaka Smart is in his third year in Austin.  In his time at Texas, he is 43-40 overall and 18-23 in Big XII play.

The Longhorns are coming off a win against #8 Texas Tech Tuesday night on their home floor, 67-58.

Starters:

Junior Dylan forward Osetkowski (6’9” 245-lbs) is big and athletic.  As a small forward, he is a matchup nightmare.  He doesn’t have a strong outside game, but can hit from the perimeter.  Most of the Longhorn offense will go through Dylan.  His interior passing game is his strength.  Leads the team in scoring 15.1 points per game.

Freshman forward Mohamed Bamba (6’11” 225-lbs) averages a double-double, averaging 11.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.  He leads the Big XII and is second in the country in block shots per game (4.5).

Freshman guard Matt Coleman (6’2” 180-lbs) facilitates the offense for the Longhorns.  Averages 8.8 points per game and 5,0 assists.  He can get their offense going by driving into the lane and dishing it off to one of their big guys, or finding the open man along the perimeter.

Freshman forward Jericho Sims (6’9” 240-lbs) is long and athletic.  He can find the open spots in the paint to get his points.  He’s had an up and down year, averaging 4.8 points per game and 3.5 rebounds.

Freshman guard Jason Febres (6’5” 190-lbs) is a streaky shooter, but when hot, he is dangerous.  He had 18 agaisnt Baylor, but is only averaging 3.8 points per game.

Coming off the bench:

Junior guard Kerwin Roach (6’4” 180-lbs) provides instant offense when he comes into the game.  He attacks the rim and has a great mid-range jump shot.  Averages 10.1 points per game.

Junior guard Eric Davis Jr (6’3” 190-lbs) is averaging 16.6 points in the last 5 games shooting 61.5% from three-point range.

Sophomore guard Jacob Young (6’2” 185-lbs) provides some valuable minutes coming off the bench.  He is not a prolific scorer but can provide some offense and takes care of the ball.  Averages 5.1 points per game.

There is a lot of talk about the size of the Longhorn frontline, but its been improvement in their guard play that has been to the key to their success.  They are quick with the ball and have been limiting turnovers as of late. They have quick hands on the defensive end of the floor and can cause havoc in the passing lanes.

Shaka Smart is known for his defense and has the team 2nd in scoring (65.4) and defensive field goal percentage (39.6%).  They will play a high-pressure man to man defense and at time switch to a 2-3 zone, using their size to make their opponents hit shots from the outside.

With Texas playing four freshmen hey have struggled to find consistency this year, especially on the offensive end of the floor.

Forward Sagaba Konate will have his hands full with Mamba, Sims, and Osetkowski underneath.  He is going to have to fight for position and not be too aggressive, so he doesn’t get into foul trouble.

West Virginia guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr will have to force their guards to play along the perimeter and not allow them to penetrate the defense.  The need to keep pressure for the full forty minutes and force them into mistakes.

Forwards Wesley Harris and Esa Ahmad must limit Osetkowski’s touches, with lockdown off the ball defense.  Make him have to make a play from the outside.

They will have to stay disciplined on defense and rebound the ball.

The Mountaineers have had four days to fix their offense that has become stagnant in the last three games.  They need to move without the ball, set clean off the ball screens and have the correct spacing.

When Carter drives the lane, Miles and Lamont West need to work to get open on the outside for an open look and Konate and Esa need to get into position on the inside, to get a good look around the rim.

West Virginia needs to attack the basket.  They need to absorb the contact and finish strong around the rim.  They cannot settle for outside shots.  If they do shoot a lot from the outside, they will need to crash the boards, to get second chance opportunities.

Texas hasn’t faired well away from Austin.  Four of their six losses have come on the road.

I think West Virginia wins this game, but its going to be a typical Big XII battle.  We’ll see some offensive improvement, but it will be their hustle and defense that wins the game.  I expect to see the Mountaineers pressure the Longhorns for a full forty minutes.

The only way the Mountaineers win is if they go back to what was working for them, and that’s grinding it out.

Mountaineers win 71-64.

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