West Virginia (7-6) and Texas (8-6) both suffered devastating defeats in their Big 12 openers this past weekend. The Mountaineers faded late and squandered their lead, falling to Oklahoma, 67-57. Meanwhile the Longhorns came storming back, but fell to Baylor in overtime, 86-79. Each will look to bounce back as the two new conference foes battle in Austin on national television. Tipoff is set for 9:00PM ET and will air on ESPN2 and WatchESPN apps.
Here are three keys to a Mountaineer victory tonight.
1. At the risk of sounding simplistic - It would be nice if someone made a shot. Yes, I'm paraphrasing Bob Huggins, but neither team is exactly proficient on the offensive end. Texas ranks 286th in the nation in field goal percentage (40.6%) and 235th in points per game (65.0). West Virginia comes in at 306th in field goal percentage (39.7%) and 147th in points per game (69.2). If anyone in the Gold and Blue can find their stroke, tonight would be a good time to do so.
2. Stay in front of your man - The Longhorns' guards are lightning quick and get into the lane with ease. Javan Felix lit up Baylor for 26 points this past weekend by slashing to the hoop for layups and knocking down mid-range jumpers. He was also able to dish out nine assists after drawing in other defenders. The Mountaineer guards will have their hands full keeping the Texas perimeter players out of the paint. Sheldon McLellan (15.6 points) and Julien Lewis (11.8) are their top two scorers, and both are equally as dangerous as Felix.
3. Everyone needs to box out - The three guards may do the majority of the scoring, but more than half of Texas' official roster stands 6-foot-7 or taller (seven out of 13). Although only one player averages more than 5.5 rebounds per game (Jonathan Holmes at 7.6), the Longhorns have six players pulling down four or more boards a night. That's why Texas is ranked No. 24 in the country in rebounding.
Whether you're at the game or watching from the comfort of your own home, join your fellow Mountaineer fans in discussing the game below!