CLEVELAND, Ohio–West Virginia travels to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Sunday to take on No. 2 Ohio State at noon in what would be a NCAA Tournament resume-building victory.
The 22nd-ranked Mountaineers (10-1) are off to an impressive start but have looked sloppy and unfocused at times. Against Youngstown State, WVU lacked focus and may have taken its opponent lightly.
Poor shooting plagued the Mountaineers in the 75-64 victory. WVU hit just 5-of-17 from beyond the arc and shot 50 percent from the free throw line, an area the team has struggled with all season.
The Mountaineers will need to play 40 solid minutes if they want to knock off the Buckeyes (11-1).
OSU is coming off a 71-65 victory over Kentucky in Las Vegas last Saturday. At the time, the Wilcats were sixth in the nation. The Buckeyes lone loss comes against Minnesota.
Freshman guard D.J. Carton played a huge role in the win over Kentucky, dropping a team-high 15 points. He had five rebounds and a clutch steal.
Sophomore Duane Washington will pose another threat to WVU. He was absent during OSU’s only loss. Against the Wildcats, he came off the bench and scored eight points in 14 minutes.
Both Washington and Carlton are averaging 11.1 points per game.
The Buckeyes are shooting 49.1 percent from the floor and 40.9 percent from 3-point range.
OSU is out-rebounding opponents by an average of 8.6 boards per contest while outscoring teams by an average of nearly 22 points per game.
The Mountaineers’ strength is their size down low and they have played solid perimeter defense.
WVU ranks second in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense at 24.6 percent, third offensive rebounding with an average of 14.9 per game, third in rebounds per game.
Freshman Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver have been a force for the Mountaineers. Tshiebwe averages 12.9 points and 9.3 rebounds and Culver averages 11.4 points and 9.4 rebounds.
Senior Jermaine Haley averages 11.1 points.
If WVU wants to win, they need to do a better job on making the free shots from the charity stripe.
Tipoff is slated for noon and televised nationally on FS1.