Here are some keys to the Monday night game:
- Texas plays man defense...Texas also fouls...a lot. Big men Cameron Ridley (who is the size of a mountain) and Jon Holmes get into foul trouble. Juwan Staten, Eron Harris, Terry Henderson and Devin Williams should get numerous opportunities at the free throw line in this game.
- Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor struggled in his first two conference games (8 turnovers and only 12 points) before scoring 14 and dishing out 4 assists at home against Tech on Saturday. Look for Huggins to have Staten go after him early and often.
- Texas is big and rebounds the ball really well (currently second in the conference at 43 per game). Ridley, Holmes, Demarcus Holland and Connor Lammert get after it. Huggins will be looking to block out these Texas bigs or it could spell trouble for the Mountaineers.
- The Texas bigs also score. Holmes leads the team at 13 ppg while Ridley contributes 11 ppg.
- The Texas bigs also block shots to the tune of almost 8 per game.
- 3 point shooting could be a factor for WVU, who currently shoots 44% from beyond the arc. Texas allows 39% on the season, so look for Staten to drive and dish, drive and dish.
- Watch out for Texas shooting guard Damarcus Croaker. This guy is a freakish athlete who can score (15 against Oklahoma and 12 against Oklahoma State in 26 minutes each). However, for some unknown reason Croaker didn't start or play much against Tech (only 12 minutes). We'll see how much Coach Barnes decides to use him.
- If it's a close game, WVU should definitely not foul guard Javan Felix (86%) or Holmes (83%). For a team that only shoots 60% on the season, WVU defenders need to be aware of these two. WVU should foul Taylor (65%), Ridley (60%), Croaker (57%) or Holland (56%), who most likely will be in the game down the stretch.
- Texas has not fared well offensively against zone defenses so far in league play. For example, Oklahoma State came out in man defense and Texas led by one at the half. Then the Cowboys played almost exclusively zone in the second half. Texas took the bait and paid for it, taking bad outside shots which led to quick run outs for Oklahoma State's Nash, Brown and Smart. Look for Huggins to play a lot of zone against Texas, hoping for the same run outs with Staten, Harris and Henderson.
- Prediction: This should be a close affair up to the end. If WVU makes its foul shots down the stretch, then WVU wins 77-70.
As always...Let's Go, Mountaineers!