The 20th-ranked West Virginia University Men’s basketball team will be back in action this afternoon when they travel out to Waco, Texas to take on the 19th-ranked Baylor Bears at the Ferrell Center. To get you set for this intriguing Big XII match-up, here is a quick preview of all the action:
Trends and Streaks:
WVU’s is hot at the moment, riding into today’s game in the midst of a three-game winning streak after disposing of Texas Tuesday night in Morgantown by a score of 71-64. The Mountaineers are 7-3 in their last ten contests, and have won four of their last five contests.
The Bears are also playing consistently well of late, as they too come into today’s game on a three-game winning streak. Baylor previously beat 12th-ranked Iowa State 79-70 Wednesday night in Ames. The Bears are also 7-3 over the course of their last ten games.
Rankings and Standings:
West Virginia comes into the week No. 20th in the newest Associated Press top-25 poll. WVU moved up three spots from a week prior in the AP poll. The Mountaineers are now No. 19 in this week’s coach’s poll – also an improvement of three positions. This is the 13th consecutive week West Virginia find themselves ranked in the top-25. WVU now has an RPI of 21.
Baylor is now ranked 19th in this week’s AP poll. The Bears improved one position in the AP poll from a week prior. Baylor is also ranked 20th in the Coach’s poll at the moment, and they currently have an RPI of 10. The Bears have been ranked in the top-25 since the beginning of the season.
Saturday afternoon will mark the seventh all-time meeting between these two schools in Men’s basketball. Baylor currently leads the series 5-1 after throttling the Mountaineers by a score of 87-69 back on February 7th. WVU’s only victory to date against Baylor came on January 28th of last season when the Mountaineers scored a 66-64 upset victory over the Bears in Waco.
Senior guard Juwan Staten continues to lead the Mountaineers in scoring with an average of 14.5 points per game. Staten also leads the team in assists with 125 on the season so far. Sophomore forward Devin Williams leads the team in rebounding with 221.
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- 47.6%), three-point shooting percentage (Paige- 40.0%), foul shooting (Carter- 79.1%), blocks (Holton- 26), and steals (Carter- 50).
For the Bears, junior forward Taurean Prince leads the squad in scoring with an average of 13.3 points per game. Junior forward Rico Gathers is the team’s leading rebounder with an incredible 334 boards to his credit on the year.
Baylor’s other statistical leaders include freshman forward Jonathan Motley (42 blocks), junior guard Lester Medford (97 assists and 39 steals), senior forward Royce O’Neale (46.8% FG, and 44.2% 3PT) and senior guard Kenny Chery (84.2% FT).
Who to Watch:
For West Virginia, keep your eye on No. 3 Juwan Staten. The 6’1” senior out of Dayton, Ohio has been one of the main reasons for why WVU has been on a roll of late. In his team’s last five games, Staten is averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 assists per contest.
However, Juwan Staten has had a tough go of it throughout his career against the Bears as he is averaging just 10 points and 6.2 assists in five career appearances against the school. Staten will hope to duplicate his more recent performances as the Mountaineers look to make a strong push for the Big XII regular season title during the team’s final three games.
Highlighting the Baylor side of things will be No. 1 Kenny Chery. The 5’11” native of Montreal, Quebec has been consistently productive against WVU over the course of his career. In three career outings against the old Gold and Blue, Chery is averaging 11.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game.
Chery has also been an instrumental part of Baylor’s recent upswing, averaging 8.7 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game over the course of his team’s ongoing three-game win streak. If the Mountaineers aren’t careful, Kenny Chery could quietly have a big game this afternoon as Baylor is also in hot pursuit of the Big XII regular season crown.
Key of the Game:
It will be crucial that the Mountaineers get off to another hot start this afternoon if they hope to score the win in today’s big revenge game. In WVU’s last meeting with Baylor, the Mountaineers fell behind their opponents by as much as 23 points within the first 12 minutes of the ball game. The Mountaineers never had a chance to come back in that ball game, and should history repeat itself this afternoon, they won’t have any chance in this one unless they manage to storm out in front as the aggressors early and often.
Tip-off of today’s game is slated for 4:00PM. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.