The 21st-ranked West Virginia University Men’s basketball team will be looking to avenge an early season conference loss this afternoon when they travel to Ames, Iowa to do battle with the 14th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones at the James H. Hilton Coliseum. To get you set for this enormous Big XII match-up, here is a quick preview of all the action:
Trends and Streaks:
The Mountaineers ended a two-game losing streak Wednesday night when they defeated Kansas State 76-72. West Virginia is 6-4 in their last ten games, but are just 2-4 this season against ranked opponents.
Iowa State is also 6-4 in their last ten games after falling to 17th-ranked Oklahoma on the road Monday night 94-83. The Cyclones are 4-3 this season against ranked opponents.
Rankings and Standings:
This week, the Mountaineers dropped several spots in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coach’s polls. WVU is now 21st in the AP poll – a drop of six positions – while they come into the week ranked 20th in the Coach’s poll – a drop of eight positions. The Mountaineers have an RPI of 30 at the moment.
Iowa State is ranked 14th this week in both polls. They drop three spots in the AP poll, while they stand pat in the Coach’s poll. The Cyclones also currently have an RPI of 16.
Saturday afternoon will be the sixth all-time meeting between Iowa State and West Virginia in Men’s basketball. Coming into today’s contest, the Cyclones currently hold a 4-1 lead in the all-time series. These two schools last met on January 10th. That evening, both Juwan Staten and Devin Williams had superb games, but in the end it was not enough as Iowa State stole a two-point victory (74-72) away from the Mountaineers late in Morgantown.
Senior guard Juwan Staten continues to lead the Mountaineers in scoring with an average of 14.2 points per game. Staten also leads the team in assists with 97 on the season so far. Sophomore forward Devin Williams leads the team in rebounding with 189.
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- 52.6%), three-point shooting percentage (Paige- 41.9%), foul shooting (Carter- 80.6%), blocks (Holton- 25), and steals (Carter- 47).
For the Cyclones, junior forward Georges Niang continues to lead the team in scoring with an average of 14.9 points per game. Senior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones paces the bunch in rebounding with 127 this season.
Iowa State’s other statistical leaders include sophomore guards Monte Morris (126 assists and 40 steals) and Matt Thomas (82.4% FT), junior forward Jameel McKay (29 blocked shots), and senior forward Dustin Hogue (59.0% FG and 45.9% 3PT.).
Who to Watch:
For West Virginia, keep your eye on No. 3 Juwan Staten. The 6’1” senior guard out of Dayton, Ohio is coming off a 23-point showing in his team’s last game against the Cyclones. In five career appearances against Iowa State, Staten is averaging 14.4 points and 5.2 assists per game. It would be nice for West Virginia to have Staten put on a performance today similar to his previous three outings against the Cyclones.
For Iowa State, look for Georges Niang to have a big game this afternoon. The 6’8” native of Methuen, Mass is averaging 15.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game over the course of his career against West Virginia. The only positive for WVU when speaking about Niang is the fact that the junior forward has only registered 14 points, combined, over the course of his team’s last two games. While the Mountaineers hope to prolong this cold streak, look for Niang to end it today as he’s due for a big performance.
Key of the Game:
WVU’s field-goal shooting will once again be put up to the test as they look to avenge the awful second half effort that undoubtedly cost them a win in their last meeting with Iowa State. The Mountaineers finished the second half of that game with an average of 29% from the field. They only shot 32% from the field for that entire game. If West Virginia hopes to return the favor to the hosts this afternoon, it’s going to be of high priority for the Mountaineers to make the most of their opportunities throughout the game because if they shot under 40% once again, the Cyclones won’t hesitate to run away with this one.
Tip-off of today’s game is slated for 4:00PM. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.