STILLWATER, Okla.–The 11th-ranked West Virginia University basketball team kicks off conference play on the road against Oklahoma State on Friday afternoon.
The Mountaineers (11-1) are embarking on their journey to take to down reigning Big 12 Champion Kansas Jayhawks, who were expected to cruise to their 13th straight title.
“Press Virginia” has been striking fear into opponents all season and wearing them down.
WVU leads the country in scoring margin (33.6), turnover margin (15.8), turnovers forced (26.3) and steals (13.9). WVU ranks second in the country in offensive rebounds (16.3).
The Mountaineers have forced at least 19 turnovers in every game but one this season and have forced more than 30 three times.
WVU had 15 steals or more seven times this season and the Mountaineers are forcing their opponents to turn the ball over on 34.0 percent of their possessions, which is No.1 in the nation.
WVU has forced more turnovers (315) than its opponents have made field goals (239) during out of conference play this season.
Sophomore Esa Ahmad has emerged this year for the Mountaineers. He leads the team in scoring, averaging 12.9 points per game.
Junior Jevon Carter (9.8 points) leads the Big 12 in steals, averaging 3.3 a game and senior Nathan Adrian (10.5 points, 6.3 rebounds) ranks second in offensive rebounds.
WVU depends on its bench greatly to knock around its opponents.
The Mountaineers’ bench has scored 30 or more in 31 of the last 39 games. In 2016, the team’s bench is averaging 43.6 points.
Against Northern Kentucky, Tarik Phillip and Teyvon Myers led WVU with 28 points between the two.
Juwan Evans paves the way for the Cowboys. The sophomore guard is averaging 20.2 points and 3.1 rebounds.
After missing last season due to an injury, senior Phil Forte (13.1 points) returns for Oklahoma State. The senior guard picked right up where he left off.
First year head coach Brad Underwood, who led Stephen F. Austin past the Mountaineers in the NCAA Tournament last season, has the Cowboys off to a 10-2 start.
Oklahoma State won its last four games and is undefeated at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
This will be the 10th meeting between the two teams. WVU won its last four against the Cowboys.
Tipoff is at 4 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on ESPN2.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose,BGS