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Texas Hoops Preview/Game Thread: West Virginia

Two middle of the pack teams meet Monday night in Morgantown at 6 pm on ESPNU.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After narrowly escaping Texas Tech at home on Saturday night, the Longhorns will be challenged once more against an improved West Virginia team on the road to start "Big Monday." A win would put the Longhorns back at .500 in the conference, an important milestone after starting the non-conference season 11-2. The Longhorns have lost 3 of their last 5 and, with the UNC loss looking less impressive by the day, will need to make some noise in the conference if they want any shot at making the tournament. West Virginia is a must win.

What we know about the WVU:

West Virginia has improved significantly since they last met the Longhorns in 2013. Outside of Iowa State, the Mountaineers are the conference's second best three point shooting team. WVU has six different players who are shooting over 35% from beyond the arc. They are light years ahead of the Longhorns in this category.

WVU is led by junior PG Juwan Staten. Staten, who transferred from A-10 powerhouse Dayton in 2012, has finally found comfort in Bob Huggins' system and is meeting the expectations that were placed on him a year ago. His success was evidenced most clearly when he matched up against the league's most talented player and fellow point guard, Marcus Smart. Staten scored 20 points, collected 5 rebounds and dished out 8 assists while only turning the ball over twice in a 1 point loss against the top-10 Oklahoma State team. If he plays half as well as he did against the Cowboys, it will be a long night for the Longhorns.

Two other players to watch are WVU scoring leader Eron Harris and freshman Devin Williams. Against OSU, Williams scored 12 and pulled down a personal-best 13 rebounds. Harris had an off game and finished with 11 points on 3 of 11 shooting. Texas will need to defend the three and rebound very well if they are going to pull out a victory in Morgantown.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • WVU leads the all time series 3-2.
  • All five games between Texas and West Virginia have been decided by four points or less, including one in overtime. The cumulative series score is 343-340 in favor of WVU.
  • West Virginia is supposedly required to play a road game on Big Monday if they played at home on Saturday (which they did against OSU.) Rick Barnes made mention of this in his Texas Tech post-game radio interview with Craig Way. Technically, it's an unfair advantage, but because of the geographic constraints of being in a conference nowhere near the WVU campus, sometimes they score a few perks that exempt them from the rules.

Projected Starters:

G- Eron Harris

G- Juwan Staten

F- Terry Henderson

F- Remi Dibo

F- Devin Williams

More Information

TV: ESPNU. Mike Schick (pxp) Bob Valvano (color)

Time: 6 p.m.