West Virginia Mountaineers: NCAA Tournament Team Preview

West Virginia

University of West Virginia Mountaineers (No. 6 Seed Big-12 Tournament)

Record: 17-15 (9-9 Big-12)

Coach: Bob Huggins

Tournament Birth: At-Large Bid

Big Wins: Kansas, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State

Big Losses: Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State

West Virginia has suffered some growing pains this season. The freshmen and sophomore-laden team has played unevenly, often beating superior teams, and losing to those that they should  easily handle. They have also been unable to put together a string of victories due to inexperience and injury. The result for Bob Huggins club was a mediocre 17-15 record. After beating No. 17 Oklahoma, Kansas State and No. 16 Iowa State to begin the month of February,however, it appeared that the Mountaineers were poised to turn the corner and join the elite teams in the Big-12 conference. Instead they followed up that impressive run with three successive losses, falling back to the middle of the pack in the league.

West Virginia again appeared to right the ship when they hosted No. 10 Kansas to close out the season. It was the first time since early January that the Mountaineers were at full strength, finally overcoming various injuries. They built a 25-point second half lead over the Jayhawks before settling for a 92-86 victory over the Big-12 regular season champions. The Mountaineers followed this stellar performance with one that was equally disappointing for West Virginia fans. The Mountaineers were dropped 66-49 by the Texas Longhorns in the quarterfinals of the Big-12 tournament, seriously handicapping their NCAA tournament hopes.

                     Team Leaders

POINTS

PPG

FG%

FT%

3PT%

Juwan Staten

18

.482

.724

.357

Eron Harris

17.4

.439

.856

.426

REBOUNDS

REB

OFF

DEF

BPG

Devin Williams

7.2

2.5

4.7

0.2

Juwan Staten

5.8

0.9

4.9

0.1

ASSISTS

APG

SPG

TO

AST/TO

Juwan Staten

5.8

1.3

2.1

2.8

Eron Harris

1.6

0.8

2.1

0.8

Starting Five

F –   Nathan Adrian

F –  Devin Williams

F –  Remi Dibo

G – Juwan Staten

G – Eron Harris

Who’s Hot: Freshman forward Brandon Watkins and the West Virginia bench. Watkins pitched in a team high 10 points in the semifinal tournament loss to Texas. He shot 5-11 from the field in the effort which resulted in him scoring more than seven points above his average of 2.7. He also grabbed a season high seven rebounds.

The entire West Virginia Mountaineer bench played pretty well against Texas. With Bob Huggins’ starters performing abysmally, the reserves stepped up for 29 of the teams 49 total points in the contest.

Who’s Not: Juwan Staten and Eron Harris. The leading scorers for the Mountaineers and first and third leading scorers in the Big-12 conference respectively, the junior and sophomore guards combined for a total of seven points in the Big-12 tournament. Staten, who averages 18 points per game scored four while Harris, who averages 17.3 points per game contributed just three against the Longhorns.

Outlook: With a 17-15 overall record, chances are slim that West Virginia will receive an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. If, somehow, the program’s impressive resume, with victories over Kansas and Oklahoma, sways the selection committee, the Mountaineers could easily make a run in the Big Dance. When they are on, the high-flying squad can put up points in bunches. Their 78 points per game rank No. 28 in the nation, and the squad has even surpassed the century mark on two occasions this season.

Commentary by Jeremy Mika

Sources:

CBS Sports

Basketball State

ESPN 

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