Basketball: #17 Mountaineers to open up conference play in Fort Worth Saturday afternoon
The West Virginia University Men’s basketball team opens up the in-conference portion of their 2014-15 schedule Saturday afternoon when they play the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, TX. To get you set for all the action, here is quick preview of the big showdown:
Trends and Streaks:
Both teams enter tomorrow’s opener with fantastic early season records as the Mountaineers currently hold a record of 12-1, with their lone loss coming to a tough LSU squad. TCU will enter tomorrow’s action with a perfect 13-0 record. Saturday will be the first time this season the Horned Frogs face a team with a top 25 poll position, let alone a team with an RPI higher than 50, so it will be interesting to see how they adjust. The Mountaineers are coming in on a five-game winning streak, and were winners in nine of their last ten games.
This will be the fifth all-time meeting between the two schools in Men’s basketball. WVU currently holds the edge in the series by a margin of 4-0. The two teams last met on March 1st, 2014 at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. That evening, Eron Harris dropped 18 on the opposition, while Devin Williams recorded a double-double in an 81-59 drubbing of the Horned Frogs in front of over 11,300 people.
Rankings and Ratings:
West Virginia is currently ranked #17 in the weekly Associated Press top 25 poll, and #15 in the USA Today Coach’s poll. This is the sixth week in a row the Mountaineers find themselves inside the top 25. The Mountaineers are a spot higher than the previous week in the AP poll, while they moved up two positions in this week’s Coach’s poll.
The Mountaineers also have an RPI of 20 after doing fairly well against a non-conference slate full of teams with RPI’s high than 200. Only five teams (Marshall, VMI, Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Monmouth) fall beneath this mark in which the coaching staff uses in order to determine who is best to schedule for non-conference play.
TCU is currently not ranked in either top 25 poll after falling out of the #25 spot in this week’s Associated Press poll. Although the Horned Frogs are currently undefeated, their RPI is down at 96. Only three teams (New Orleans, Grambling State, and Ole Miss) had a top 200 rating on the Horned Frogs 2014-15 non-conference schedule, which helps explain the low rating.
Junior guard Juwan Staten continues to lead the Mountaineers in scoring as he currently averages 16.1 points per game. Staten also leads the team in foul shooting (81.7%), and assists (55). Sophomore forward Devin Williams is the team’s leading rebounder with 94 total so far this season.
Newcomers Jonathan Holton, Jaysean Paige, and Jevon Carter all currently pace the squad in several other statistical categories including field goal percentage (Paige- 51.6%), three-point field goal percentage (Paige- 48.4%), blocks (Holton- 16), and steals (Carter- 24).
For the Frogs, senior guard Kyan Anderson leads the way in scoring with an average of 13.4 points per game. The 5-11, 175 pound all-Big XII selection is also the team leader in free throw percentage (91.8%), assists (55), and steals (19).
Sophomore forward Kenrich Williams leads TCU in rebounding with an average of 6.7 per game. Fellow sophomores Chris Washburn and Michael Williams lead the team in blocks and three-point field goal percentage with 19 and 57.1% respectively. Junior forward Devonte Abron currently leads the team in field goal percentage with an average of 68.2% from the field.
Who to watch:
Juwan Staten will be a person of interest in Saturday afternoon’s match-up. The 6-1, 190 pound Dayton, OH native will be getting his first chance to show all Big XII rivals that his selection as preseason conference Player of the Year was right on the money. In WVU’s two games against the Horned Frogs last season, Staten scored over 15 points in each game, while also finishing with over ten free throw opportunities in both games.
Kyan Anderson will be the guy the Mountaineers need to watch closely when the Horned Frogs possess the rock. Anderson’s been averaging over 13 points a game this year, and will be a threat from behind the arc as he recorded at least one three-point bucket in each of TCU’s games against the Mountaineers last year. With just two 20+ point performances to his credit so far, look for Anderson to fight to make Saturday the third such time he reaches this plateau.
Key to the game
As witnessed by many games so far this season, turnovers should once again be one of the biggest factors in deciding a winner in Saturday’s match-up. So far this year, WVU has forced opponents into 299 turnovers while TCU has forced opponents into just 171. In last year’s two games WVU forced the Horned Frogs into a double-digit amount of turnovers in each contest (14 in the first; 13 in the second). With a much better defensive team on the floor this time around, look for the Mountaineers to get 20 or more if the Horned Frogs are not patient against their stingy, full-court press.
Tip-off for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 4:00PM. The game will be televised regionally on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh and FOX Sports Southwest.