The West Virginia University Men’s basketball team faces their toughest challenge to date later this evening when they host the 17th ranked Iowa State Cyclones at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. To get you set for all the action, here is quick a preview of tonight’s match-up:
Trends and Streaks:
West Virginia will enter tonight’s game on a seven-game winning streak, and the winners of nine out of their last ten games. The Cyclones come into tonight’s game fresh off a 63-61 home victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Iowa State is 8-2 in their last 10 games, but has won eight of their last nine games.
This will be the fifth all-time meeting between the two schools in Men’s basketball. Iowa State currently holds a 3-1 lead in the all-time series. The two teams last met on February 26th, 2014 at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, IA. That evening, the Cyclones convincingly avenged an ugly 102-77 from two weeks prior by embarrassing the Mountaineers in front of 14,384 spectators. Georges Niang dropped 24 points, while DeAndre Kane recorded a double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) in an 83-66 throttling of WVU.
Rankings and Ratings:
West Virginia is currently ranked #14 in both the weekly Associated Press top 25 poll, and the USA Today Coach’s poll. This is the seventh week in a row the Mountaineers find themselves inside the top 25. The Mountaineers move up three positions in the newest AP poll, while they jump up just one spot in this week’s Coach’s poll. They also currently have a ranking of #12 in the updated RPI standings.
Iowa State is currently ranked #17 in the AP poll, and #16 in the USA Today Coach’s poll. The Cyclones have been in each top 25 poll since the beginning of the season, but have significantly dropped in the latest polls following a 64-60 loss at the hands of South Carolina last Saturday. The Cyclones are currently #42 in the updated RPI rankings.
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 assists with 56. Sophomore forward Devin Williams is the team’s leading rebounder with 108 total so far this season.
Newcomers Jonathan Holton, Jaysean Paige, Tarik Phillip, and Jevon Carter all currently pace the squad in several other notable statistical categories including field goal percentage (Phillip- 54.3%), foul shooting (Carter- 77.3%), three-point field goal percentage (Paige- 47.2%), blocks (Holton- 17), and steals (Carter- 34).
For the Cyclones, junior guard Georges Niang currently leads the team in scoring with an average of 15.2 points per game. Transfer senior Bryce DeJean-Jones is the team’s leading rebounder with 73 total so far on the year, and is tied with sophomore guard Monte Morris for the team lead in blocked shots with eight.
Some of Iowa State’s other stat leaders include senior forward Dustin Hogue (60.4 FG% and 50.0 3PT%), and sophomore guards Matt Thomas (88.9 FT%), and Monte Morris (69 assists and 21 steals).
Who to watch:
Juwan Staten will be the guy to watch from WVU in this evening’s contest. The senior recorded 20 and 17 points respectively in the two games against the Cyclones last season. The Dayton, OH native is currently averaging a team-high 16.1 points per game, and is coming off a fantastic 16 point performance in WVU’s Monday night victory against Texas Tech. It will be crucial that #3 is on his game in order to help the rest of the squad counter an Iowa State team that’s averaging 80.4 points per game this year.
Georges Niang will undoubtedly be the guy to watch in red and yellow. The 6’8”, 230 pound junior is coming off a lowly 10 point performance in Tuesday’s win against Oklahoma State. Look for Niang to try and rebound with a big time scoring performance Saturday night against the Mountaineers as he currently leads the team with a scoring average of 15.2 points per game. He also registered totals of 17 and 24 points respectively in Iowa State’s two games against West Virginia last season.
Key to the game:
Rebounding seems to be the key in tonight’s contest as both teams are currently very good on the glass. Iowa State averages 36.5 rebounds a game while the Mountaineers average 38.9. WVU has only been out rebounded three times this season, losing just the one game to LSU when this has happened. Iowa State is currently 9-0 when winning the battle on the boards, but is 2-2 on the year when being outrebounded by the opposition. Much like the Texas Tech game, look for tonight’s game to be closely contested underneath the baskets.
Tip-off for tonight’s game is scheduled for 8:00PM. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.