Morgantown, W.Va. – Tonight, (8 p.m. on ESPN 2) #14 West Virginia will open their home Big 12 season against #17 Iowa State (11-2). This match-up will mark the 8th time that a game will be played in the Coliseum with both teams ranked in the AP Top 20. Fans are encouraged to wear Gold for this Gold Rush game presented by Shoney’s. The last gold rush was against the Kansas Jayhawks, and WVU went on to win 92-86.
Last season when these two schools met, both teams split the 2-game series with neither ending in a close score. February 10th, 2014 at the Coliseum WVU won 102-77 and on February 26th, 2014 at Iowa State, the Cyclones won 83-66. Maybe home court advantage will play in Mountaineers favor tonight with a crowd of around 10,000 expected. However, WVU is a whole new team this year with the hopes of continuing their march towards Selection Sunday.
(Picture from WVUsports.com)
Things to look for:
This Iowa State team seems to have greater depth than teams in the past. Up to this point in the season, the Cyclones have had seven different leading scorers. This can pose a difficulty on any defense; not knowing specifically which player(s) consistently score the teams most points. They are ranked 14th overall in points per game (80.9) and 1st overall in assists per game with 18.7. Iowa State is coming off of an exciting 63-61 win over conference rivals Oklahoma State. With seconds left on the clock and Oklahoma State looking to win with a three, Dustin Hogue blocked the three pointer, he also lead the team in points with 17. Keys to win: Point guard duo Georges Niang and Bryce Dejean-Jones, and hold Staten to less points.
The Mountaineers this season are off to their best start in 30 years. Point guard and Big 12 player of the year Juwan Staten is back to leading his team after an illness. This young team will be leaning on the experience of Staten, Browne and Williams as they head into a challenging stretch in the schedule. WVU looks to continue to use their full court press to force turnovers as they did in their win against Texas Tech (22 turnovers). Staten will be one to watch in this game. His scoring and play making has put him on the watch list for the Wooden award.
Keys to win: The Mountaineers must win the turnover battle and finish around the rim. West Virginia will continue the press that has been a huge difference in the season. The deciding factor in the game will likely be field goal percentage.