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West Virginia

College Basketball



As funny as it sounds, West Virginia is in need of a win, even as a top-10 team in the AP Polls. The Mountaineers could’ve easily won their last two Games, but couldn’t close against Texas Tech and then let a big lead slip away against Kansas on Monday. Taking on a Texas team that just beat Texas Tech on Wednesday, this won’t be a freebie.

The Longhorns still have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, but it won’t come easy without point guard Andrew Jones the rest of the way. His absence was felt when they let a huge lead slip away at Oklahoma State last Saturday to lose by one point. A lot of players have stepped up in place of Jones, but when it comes down to it, they’ll miss one of their best players throughout the rest of the season.

The problem in this Game is that Texas could have trouble breaking the WVU press without Jones. The Longhorns don’t turn it over that much, but still struggle at times and when pressured, are susceptible to giving the ball away like in the OK State loss. Their goal will be to keep this Game as low scoring as possible and that’s how they’ve gutted out wins this season.

A lot of eyes will be on two of the best shot blockers in the country in Sagaba Konate and Mohamed Bamba. With neither team being able to shoot the ball from deep, there will be a lot of shots inside the arc, which points to a block party on both ends. The problem for Texas in this matchup is that power forward Dylan Osetkowski isn’t going to have his usual advantages. since everyone on West Virginia is fast and athletic, Osetkowski can’t use his offensive versatility, which he’s been able to do in almost every Game and that’s why he leads the Longhorns with 15 points per Game. Osetkowski will be matched up with LAmont West and Esa Ahmad for the majority of the Game and both can hold their own in the paint and defend on the perimeter. If Osetkowski isn’t hitting his shots, the Texas offense usually struggles.

Bamba isn’t a guy to take over offensively, but Kerwin Roach stepped up and scored 20 points in his return to the lineup on Wednesday. Freshman Matt Coleman has been huge in recent Games, but he’ll likely draw WVU’s Jevon Carter for most of the Game, which won’t be easy. Carter, a senior, is considered one of the best defensive guards in the country and will be a real problem for Coleman and Texas.

The Longhorns have played well in their last few Games, but they haven’t seen a press like this or a defense like this in Conference play. They’ll have trouble scoring and holding onto the ball, which will turn into points on the other end. The Mountaineers may not have much success offensively, either, but with turnovers and Ahmad back in the lineup, their options to Scoreincrease. Ahmad recently returned to the lineup and fit right in as the team’s second-best scorer. Texas could keep this Game tight early, but dealing with the press all Game will be tough for a young squad and that points to WVU getting back on track.

Our Pick – Texas +9

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