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January 11, 2014
Know the Foe: West Virginia
Oklahoma State is coming off their first conference win of the season after defeating Texas Wednesday night, and they will look to continue their winning ways when the face the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown Saturday afternoon. With the Big XII shaping up to be one of the premier conferences this season, it will be tough for any team in the Big XII to pick up wins on the road, but the Cowboys have a great opportunity to get one against the Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers will not make it easy for the Cowboys though. Although the Mountaineers do not have a signature win this season they have played exceptionally well against great teams this year despite coming up short in those games. They have played the likes of Wisconsin, Missouri, and Gonzaga and have taken all three teams to the distance. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers they ended up on the wrong end of all three of those games, but the Mountaineers are 2-0 in the Big XII and have a chance to get their first big win of the season against OSU and remain undefeated in the conference. Saturday's matchup promises to bring some exciting play from both teams.
• Who?: West Virginia University
• Nickname: Mountaineers
• Location: Morgantown, West Virginia
• 2012-13 Record: 13-19 (6-12); Lost in the 1st round of the Big XII Tournament to Texas Tech 69-71; No postseason appearance
• Current Record: 10-5 (2-0); T-1st in the Big XII
• RPI: 66th
• Best Win: @ Texas Tech (RPI: 131)
• Worst Loss: @ Virginia Tech (RPI: 120)
• Last Matchup vs. OSU: 2/23/13 (OSU 73-57)
• Series vs. OSU: OSU leads the series 2-1
Juwan Staten (Jr.) G: Staten is the most complete player on this Mountaineer squad. He is 2nd on the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game, putting him at 6th in the conference in scoring. Staten is a good 3 point shooter, shooting 40.0% from 3-point range, but he has the ability to score from anywhere on the court. He has the highest field goal percentage on the Mountaineers (minimum 5 makes per game), shooting at 52.1%, and has the 4th highest field goal percentage in the conference. In addition to his efficient scoring Staten is 2nd in the conference in assists per game with 6.0 and is 16th in the conference in rebounds per game. The most impressive offensive stat for Staten is that he is 1st in the conference and 10th in the nation in the assist-to-turnover ratio with a ratio of 3.46. If his offense wasn't enough he has some great defensive play as well. Staten leads the team in steals per game, 7th in the conference, and is one of the better defensive rebounders for the Mountaineers. It is no question that he is the best player on the Mountaineer squad and the Cowboy back court will need to be up to the challenge to limit him all game long.
Eron Harris (So.) G: Harris is the biggest offensive threat for the Mountaineers. He is the team's leading scorer and is 2nd in the Big XII in points per game with 18.5. Harris is one of the best three pointer shooters in the conference and is statistically similar to OSU's [db]Phil Forte[/db]. Harris is shooting 44.6% from 3-point range, only 4% behind Forte, and he and Forte lead the conference in 3-pointers made with 41 each. Statistically, Harris doesn't contribute as much in categories like assists and rebounds, but his ability to catch fire makes him one of the deadliest shooters in the conference. The Cowboys will need to prevent him from heating up if they don't want to find themselves in a deficit against the Mountaineers.
What to Watch For:
Backcourt Battle: All season long it's been about how the Cowboy front court would fare against their opposition, but Saturday afternoon will be the battle of the backcourts for both teams. OSU has one of the better backcourts in the country and has proven that against tough matchups like Memphis. They will get another chance to prove how good they are against a good back court that will probably fly under the radar all season long. West Virginia's Staten and Harris are the team's leading scorers and Staten is easily the best player on the team. They've played well this season, but they will have a tough test ahead of them against the likes of Marcus Smart and Markel Brown. It won't be a walk in the park for the Smart and Brown though. Staten and Harris are a very strong guard duo and they could cause problems for the Cowboys if the heat up early in the game. The biggest question for the Mountaineers in this matchup will be if their guards coming off the bench can compete with the likes of Forte and Stevie Clark coming off the bench for the Cowboys. It should be an exciting matchup to watch come game time.
3-Point Barrage: West Virginia is team that lives and dies by the 3-point shot, but fortunately for them they are one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the country. The Mountaineers are 2nd in the conference and 32nd in the nation in 3-point percentage, making an average of almost 40% of their 3-pointers per game. Teams that can score a lot of points and fast are going to be the worst matchups for the Cowboys this season. It won't be an issue of if the defense can prevent the Mountaineers from heating up behind the arc, but if they do go on a big run, will the Cowboy offense be able to close the gap? The Cowboys have the talent to score, but their offense seems to just come and go whenever it pleases. If the offense is there for the Cowboys they will have the ability to weather the storm, but if it disappears Saturday afternoon, it could spell trouble for them.
West Virginia has the ability to pull of this upset with their two strong guards, but I think you give the advantage to OSU's backcourt because they have more than just two impact players in their backcourt. In addition OSU's front court should have an advantage over West Virginia's despite having a lack of depth in their front court. If he can stay out of trouble look for Le'Bryan Nash to have a good game against the Mountaineers. The game will be close, but the Cowboys avoid the upset in Morgantown. Oklahoma State 79 - West Virginia - 75
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