The No.15 West Virginia University Men’s basketball team face a stiff challenge on the road this evening when they pay a visit to the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman to face-off with the 21st ranked Oklahoma Sooners. To get you set for this Big XII battle, here is a quick preview of all the action:
Trends and Streaks:
West Virginia took care of business at the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon with a rousing 77-58 victory over Texas Tech. WVU is 8-2 in their last ten games, and are in the midst of a three-game winning streak.
The Sooners are entering tonight’s contest fresh off 64-56 victory they earned Saturday over their “Bedlam Series” rivals, the Oklahoma State Cowboys. OU is 6-4 in their last ten contests, and are winners of two consecutive.
Rankings and Standings:
This week, the Mountaineers are ranked 12th in the USA Today/Coach’s poll, and 15th in the Associated Press top-25 poll. West Virginia moves up two spots in the AP poll, while jumping five spots in the newest Coach’s poll. This is the 11th week in a row the Mountaineers find themselves ranked in a major top-25 poll. They are currently 19th in the latest RPI rankings.
Oklahoma is now ranked 21st in both national polls. The Sooners move up three spots in this week’s AP poll, while they make their way back into the Coach’s poll after a week-long hiatus. The Sooners have been ranked in at least one of the two major polls during each week of the 2014-15 regular season. They also have an RPI of 24 at the moment.
OU currently leads the all-time series with WVU 5-3. The two teams last met in early January where the Mountaineers would lay a brutal smack down upon the Sooners in front of 9,000+ spectators in Morgantown. That evening, Devin Williams recorded a double-double, while Jevon Carter dropped a career-high 18 points in an 86-65 victory.
Senior guard Juwan Staten continues to lead the Mountaineers in scoring with an average of 14.8 points per game. Staten also leads the team in assists with 88 on the season so far. Sophomore forward Devin Williams leads the team in rebounding with 167.
Newcomers Jonathan Holton, Jaysean Paige, Jevon Carter, and Tarik Phillip all lead the Mountaineers in several other key statistical categories including field goal percentage (Phillip- 51.0%), three-point shooting percentage (Paige- 44.4%), foul shooting (Carter- 81.3%), blocks (Holton- 23), and steals (Carter- 44).
For the Sooners, junior guard Buddy Hield leads the team in scoring with an average of 17.5 points per game. While Hield handles the offense, junior forward Ryan Spangler perpetuates the team’s defensive efforts by pacing the squad in rebounds with 169 total. Spangler is also the team’s leading field goal shooter with an average of 58.3%.
Other key statistical leaders for Oklahoma include sophomore guard Jordan Woodward (82.4% FT, 92 assists, and 31 steals), junior guard Isaiah Cousins (45.5% 3PT), and senior forward Thomas TaShawn (30 blocks).
Who to Watch:
For West Virginia, look out for sophomore forward Devin Williams. The 6’9”, 255 pound native of Cincinnati, OH is coming off an 18-point performance in Saturday’s win, and recorded a double-double – 14 points and 10 rebounds – in West Virginia’s prior meeting with the Sooners. In three career games against Oklahoma, Williams is averaging 12 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Recently, Williams has been on a bit of a hot streak as he is averaging 13.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game over the course of WVU’s last eight contests.
For the Sooners, junior guard Buddy Hield will once again be the target. OU’s leading scorer recorded 21 points in the previous match-up against WVU. In six career appearances against the Mountaineers, Hield boasts a 10.8 points per game average, and he’ll be looking to do even more damage once tonight’s game gets under way.
Key of the Game:
The Sooners are favored to win tonight’s game by four points or more. That should come as no surprise as the Mountaineers have struggled to give Oklahoma a legitimate run for their money in the previous two games played in Norman. Two things WVU will need to do tonight is convert their chances from the free throw line, and win the rebounding battles underneath the hoop. WVU has struggled with both of these facets of late, but should the Mountaineers make a conscious effort towards succeeding in these areas of focus, the rest should take care of itself.
Tip-off of tonight’s game is slated for 8:00PM. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.