MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–After knocking off the No. 2 team in the nation on Tuesday, No.18 West Virginia University is ready to continue its winning ways against Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The Aggies (11-8) pose a threat that the Mountaineers aren’t exposed to often, their size.
“They’re big, really big,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “They’re bigger than Texas was inside and Texas was big. And they got girth as well. They’re not just long but they have a lot of weight behind them.”
Texas A&M’s starting five are 6-foot-10, 6-foot-10, 6-foot-9, 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-4 and its bench provides even more size.
The Aggies outrebound opponents by 6.2 boards per game and have grabbed 260 offensive rebounds in 19 games.
Texas A&M plays a lot of zone and man defense, trying to force it down low to its bigs. That will be a challenge for the Mountaineers.
“We just have to be smart when making our passes because when they get in that zone it’s going to be hard just to get looks when they have their arms spread out,” senior forward Brandon Watkins said. “So we just have to take our time and be focused and patient. And we all have to hit somebody when it’s time to rebound because they’re all going to go to the glass. So that’s just the two big things.”
Center Tyler Davis leads the Aggies in scoring, averaging 13.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He is the top shooter in the SEC, making 60.7 percent of his field goals.
DJ Hogg (13.1 points and 5.3 assists) is clutch player but is questionable after missing Wednesday’s game against Ole Miss due to an injury.
Robert Williams (11.2 points, 6.7 rebounds) is an athletic forward with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. Admon Gilder (12.4 points, 4.1 assists) plays a lot of minutes and could struggle against WVU’s pressure defense. The 6-foot-4 guard leads the SEC in steals and will be matched up against Jevon Carter (11.9 points), who leads the Big 12 in steals.
Texas A&M averages 14.1 turnovers per game, which plays in the favor of the Mountaineers. WVU leads the nation by forcing 22.7.
Esa Ahmad is coming off a stellar career-high 27-point performance against the Jayhawks. He leads the Mountaineers in scoring, averaging 12.1 points.
Senior Nathan Adrian (10.7 points, 6.4 rebounds) has done a good job all season guarding going against bigs and guards. The 6-foot-9 forward brings a lot of heart and hustle every time he steps on the court.
Both Adrian and Ahmad will be depended upon to stop the Aggies 2/3 zone.
“We’ve got to push everything without getting out of our comfort zone,” Huggins said. “But we’ve got to pick up the pace and get them to play faster.”
Tipoff is at noon and is being televised on ESPN.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS