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Posts tagged with West Virginia

Getting to know West Virginia football

With all the positive vibes circulating in the Kansas University football program this week following the removal of Charlie Weis and installment of interim head coach Clint Bowen, it’s almost easy to forget that the Jayhawks actually have a very talented team waiting for them on Saturday.

West Virginia might have the exact same record as KU — 2-2 overall, 0-1 Big 12 — but the Mountaineers’ losses came by a combined 23 points. And those losses were against No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma.

Bowen and his Jayhawks will have all sorts of matchups and schemes to worry about at what figures to be a raucous Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown. Under fourth-year WVU coach Dana Holgorsen, the Mountaineers have 27 games with 400 or more yards of total offense and they’ve surpassed 500 yards 16 times. Through four games, they’re averaging 551.5 yards and 37.5 points a game.

The Kansas offense? Well, Bowen and offensive coordinator John Reagan have their work cut out for them: 359 yards a game and 15.2 points.

Here are five Mountaineers to watch.

No. 11 — Kevin White, senior WR

Kansas cornerback Dexter McDonald covers West Virginia receiver Kevin White as he narrowly misses a deep catch during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas cornerback Dexter McDonald covers West Virginia receiver Kevin White as he narrowly misses a deep catch during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

White is 6-foot-3, can sky even higher when necessary and is enjoying a monster season.

His season-low for receptions in a game is nine. That’s how much Alabama was able to hold him back. White went for 143 yards and a TD in a 33-23 loss to the Crimson Tide.

The athletic WVU leader has 42 catches, averages 15.1 yards a reception and went for a season-long score of 68 yards against Oklahoma.

At Big 12 media days this summer, White said he remembers well his team’s loss in Lawrence a season ago.

"We were kind of upset at ourselves, because we could've beat them,” the receiver said. “Should've beat them. Should've beaten a lot of teams."

No. 9 — Clint Trickett, senior QB

West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett (9) throws a pass in the second half of an NCAA college football game against the Alabama Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett (9) throws a pass in the second half of an NCAA college football game against the Alabama Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The 6-foot-2 former Florida State Seminole didn’t play in last season’s WVU loss at Kansas. The Mountaineers could’ve used him.

Trickett has thrown for at least 348 yards in all four games this season and only Alabama limited him to one touchdown throw.

So far in 2014, he has completed 72 percent of his passes (No. 5 in NCAA, No. 1 in Big 12) for 1,600 yards and nine TD’s, with three interceptions.

Against Maryland alone, Trickett connected on 37 of 49 passes for 511 yards and four touchdowns.

No. 8 — Karl Joseph, junior S

With 209 total tackles in his time at West Virginia, the 5-foot-11 safety is back at it this fall, with 22 unassisted tackles and 37 total.

Joseph racked up 13 tackles against Oklahoma in his last game, during which he also forced a fumble.

Last season against KU, he led WVU with seven tackles and recorded an interception.

The junior safety has 29 career starts in his 29 career games. He scored twice in 2013 on fumble recoveries.

No. 5 — Mario Alford, senior WR

Kansas cornerback Dexter McDonald gets a hold of West Virginia receiver Mario Alford during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas cornerback Dexter McDonald gets a hold of West Virginia receiver Mario Alford during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

A speedy weapon on offense and special teams, he ranks second on WVU in all-purpose yards thanks to his 207 yards worth of kickoff returns.

Alford caught a 30-yard TD pass from Trickett against Oklahoma, marking his third straight game with a touchdown reception.

In 2013, he torched Iowa State for 215 yards on just eight catches.

More recently, he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Alabama.

No. 35 — Nick Kwiatkoski, junior LB

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart narrowly misses the pylon for a touchdown as he is pushed out-of-bounds by West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart narrowly misses the pylon for a touchdown as he is pushed out-of-bounds by West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The WVU defense hasn’t spent a lot of time in opposing team’s backfields, but the 6-foot-2 linebacker has four tackles for loss, all coming in the team’s past two games — vs. Maryland and Oklahoma.

Kwiatkoski had a career day against Maryland, with 10 solo tackles, marking just the fourth time since 2002 the Mountaineers had a defender reach double digits in that category.

The middle linebacker also had seven solos against Alabama and currently has 30 total tackles this season, along with a pair of pass breakups.

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Getting reacquainted with West Virginia

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins stews on a stool during a stretch of bad play by the Mountaineers in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins stews on a stool during a stretch of bad play by the Mountaineers in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

West Virginia men's basketball coach Bob Huggins rarely appears overjoyed on the sideline (see above photo).

But he might crack a smile for a split-second if the Mountaineers (16-14 overall, 8-9 Big 12) could figure out a way to knock off No. 8 Kansas (23-7, 14-3) in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Keeping Huggins perpetually cantankerous these days, WVU has lost five of its last seven games, including an 83-69 defeat at the hands of Kansas on Feb. 8.

Here's a look at WVU's schedule since then:

-Feb. 10 — W vs Iowa State, 102-77

-Feb. 15 — L at Texas, 88-71

-Feb. 22 — L vs Baylor, 88-75

-Feb. 26 — L at Iowa State, 83-66

-March 1 — W vs TCU, 81-59

-March 5 — L at Oklahoma, 72-62

Defensive breakdowns have cost the Mountaineers, who give up a Big 12-worst 77.6 points a game in conference action and have allowed Big 12 opponents to hit 47.5% of their shots — also last in the league. They aren't much better at defending behind the 3-point line, either. Big 12 opponents have mad 36.6% of their tries.

When West Virginia has managed to hold opponents 70 points, it is a perfect 10-0 this season.

Its WVU's offense that keeps this team competitive. In Big 12 games, the Mountaineers are:

-1st in turnover margin (+3.0 a game)

-2nd in free throw percentage (74%, behind only Oklahoma's 76.8%)

-2nd in 3-point field goal percentage (37.1%, slightly behind OU's 37.7%)

-2nd in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.27, behind Iowa State's 1.69)

-3rd in 3-point field goals made (7.59 a game)

Additionally, the Mountaineers give themselves a much better chance when they are scoring inside. They are 16-5 this season when producing 20 or more points in the paint. And 0-9 when they don't hit the 20-point mark.

It wouldn't be a first if Huggins' crew is able to pull off an upset victory over Kansas. Now in his seventh season at WVU, his teams have defeated 22 ranked teams, and eight of those victories came against top-10 opponents.

Before we get reacquainted with the players who will attempt to knock off the Big 12 champion Jayhawks at 11 a.m. Saturday at WVU Coliseum, watch this interview with Huggins about the matchup:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rkzEB0nzBw

Juwan Staten, No. 3

6-1, 190, jr. guard

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends as West Virginia guard Juwan Staten puts up a shot during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends as West Virginia guard Juwan Staten puts up a shot during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 22 points, 7/12 FGs, 8/10 FTs, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers in 39 minutes

A don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-him guard who could be an All-Big 12 First team selection when postseason awards are announced on Sunday, Staten averages a league-leading 19.7 points in Big 12 games.

The Bob Cousy Award finalist averages 18.2 points and 5.9 rebounds a game on the season, and a team-leading 5.8 assists.

Too fast for most defenders to keep him in front of them, Staten has attempted 7.3 free throws a game this year and has made 73.1% of them.

He has only made 5 of 14 3-pointers all season and didn't attempt one against Kansas in the first meeting.

Eron Harris, No. 10

6-3, 195, so. guard

West Virginia guard Eron Harris pumps his fist after hitting a three against the Jayhawks during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia guard Eron Harris pumps his fist after hitting a three against the Jayhawks during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 17 points, 3/10 FGs, 3/9 3s, 8/8 FTs, 6 rebounds, 3 assits, 1 steal, 4 turnovers, 1 block in 39 minutes

After a hot first half at KU, Harris only scored four in the second, once Kansas began defending him with Andrew Wiggins.

The leading free-throw shooter in Big 12 games (92.8% on 69 attempts), like Staten, enjoys creating havoc off the dribble.

Unlike Staten, Harris (17.6 points a game) is a serious threat from 3-point range. He has knocked down 81 this season on 194 attempts (41.8%, third in the Big 12).

Among Big 12 players, only Phil Forte of Oklahoma State (88) and Brady Heslip of Baylor (95) have made more 3-pointers than Harris, who is tied for third in that category with Buddy Hield of Oklahoma.

Devin Williams, No. 5

6-9, 255, fr. forward

Kansas center Joel Embiid swats away a shot from West Virginia forward Devin Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid swats away a shot from West Virginia forward Devin Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 4 points, 1/4 FGs, 2/4 FTs, 6 rebounds, 1 turnover, 5 fouls in 12 minutes.

The big man just couldn't figure out a way to stay on the floor at Kansas. Williams fouled out while playing just 12 minutes.

Clearly, WVU needs him on the court. He grabbed six rebounds during his cameo in Lawrence.

He'll have one less post threat to worry about this time, with Joel Embiid resting his strained back, so Williams should have an easier time producing near his season averages of 8.3 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Williams enters the game coming off back-to-back double-doubles, with 10 points and 10 boards against TCU and 14 points and 12 boards against Oklahoma.

Rémi Dibo, No. 0

6-7, 225, jr. forward

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 7 points, 2/9 FGs, 1/7 3s, 2/2 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 4 fouls in 17 minutes

Dibo forced some bad shots at KU, but he still produced close to his season averages of 7.4 points and 3.3 rebounds.

His past two games have gone much worse for him, though. Dibo combined to go 2-for-13 against TCU and Oklahoma, scoring two points in each contest and missing all six of his 3-pointers.

On the season, he has made 39.5% of his 3's (fourth in the Big 12) and totaled 49 makes (seventh in the Big 12).

Nathan Adrian, No. 11

6-9, 230, fr. forward

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 3 points, 1/3 FGs, 1/3 3s, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 4 fouls in 18 minutes

The freshman big came off the bench when WVU played at Kansas, but he is a starter now due to an illness that has kept Terry Henderson off the floor.

Adrian only averages 5.6 points and 2.9 rebounds on the season, but he scored 14 points and pulled down six rebounds against TCU before going scoreless at OU with two boards.

More of an outside shooter than a guy who likes to post up, the 6-foot-9 freshman has made 37 of 102 3-pointers.

West Virginia bench

Gary Browne, No. 14

6-1, 195, jr. guard

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 5 points, 1/3 FGs, 1/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in 23 minutes

He only scores 6.1 points a game, but he is the most experienced player on the roster, having appeared in 94 career games.

Browne is capable of more than his average shows, too. He has 21 double-figure scoring games in his career, with six coming this season.

He went 2 for 3 from 3-point range and scored 12 points in WVU's loss at OU this week.

Terry Henderson, No. 15

6-4, 200, so. guard

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 2 points, 0/3 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 3 turnovers in 22 minutes.

Huggins said in an interview this week he doesn't know how much the team can expect out of Henderson — the team's third-leading scorer this season — against Kansas.

Since KU limited the sophomore guard at Allen Fieldhouse, he has battled an illness that kept him out of the past four WVU games.

If Henderson can go, Kansas will have another WVU perimeter weapon to worry about. The sophomore guard averages 12.1 points on the season and has made 42 of 113 3-pointers (37.2%).

Reply 2 comments from Calhawk Rodney Crain

Getting to know West Virginia

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins rubs his mouth during a Jayhawk run on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins rubs his mouth during a Jayhawk run on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

That sneaky Bob Huggins. West Virginia's men's basketball coach must have chuckled to himself when his Mountaineers were picked seventh in the Big 12 preseason poll.

Huggy, the third-winningest active coach in college basketball (737 career victories) probably kept laughing inwardly during the non-conference schedule, as outsiders continued to write off WVU because of its early-season struggles.

All the while, West Virginia kept improving. Now here we are a week into February and the Mountaineers, though 14-9 overall, are in third place in the Big 12 with a 6-4 record — the same mark held by Oklahoma, the No. 21-ranked team that lost at WVU, 91-86, in overtime on Wednesday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvo_78QHeR8

The victory over OU was just the latest in a string of key victories for West Virginia, which has won four of its last five games, beating Texas Tech, Baylor and Kansas State before knocking off the Sooners.

Three-point shooting and precise offense have made WVU's Big 12 success possible heading into Saturday's game at Allen Fieldhouse against No. 8 Kansas (17-5, 8-1).

In conference games, the Mountaineers have made 75 of their 206 three-pointers (36.4%). Their turnover numbers are even more impressive. Through 10 Big 12 games, WVU has averaged just 9.8 giveaways a game, compared to 13.7 for its opponents (West Virginia averages 7.0 steals a game, too). That's a Big 12-best turnover margin of + 3.9 a game.

When the Mountaineers miss long jumpers, they tend to track some down. They average 12.1 offensive boards a game in Big 12 play.

Nothing would make Huggy Bear happier Saturday than beating Kansas for the first time in his 21 seasons as a head coach — Huggins lost both games against the Jayhawks last season, went 0-3 vs. KU when he coached at Kansas State and lost to Kansas once as Cincinnati's head coach.

Let's meet the players who will try to help Huggins end his losing streak against the Jayhawks.

Juwan Staten, No. 3

6-1, 190, jr. guard

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnVDwKtjgTs

As the above clip proves, Staten is the most explosive player in a West Virginia uniform. Not only does he jump out of the gym, but he averages 18.1 points a game (second in the Big 12 to Melvin Ejim, Iowa State, 18.3) and 6.0 rebounds. Six rebounds. At 6-foot-1.

In Big 12 play, he's been even better, averaging a league-best 20.4 points and making 53% of his shots (second in the Big 12 to Thomas Gibson, K-State, 58%).

He rarely hurts WVU with his decisions, either. Staten dishes 5.5 assists a game in conference action (second in Big 12 to DeAndre Kane, Iowa State, 5.8), and he has one or fewer turnovers in 17 of his last 30 games, dating back to last year.

Much to the dismay of opposing coaches, Staten basically never leaves the court. He leads the Big 12 in minutes played at 37.4 a game. Amazingly, in conference games, he averages more than 40 minutes — 40.2 — because WVU has played two overtime games.

Really, the only thing he doesn't do is make three-pointers — 5-for-14 this season.

Eron Harris, No. 10

6-3, 195, so. guard

Kansas guard Evan Manning fouls West Virginia guard Eron Harris on the drive during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is KU guard Niko Roberts.

Kansas guard Evan Manning fouls West Virginia guard Eron Harris on the drive during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is KU guard Niko Roberts. by Nick Krug

If you watched the highlights in the intro from the Oklahoma game, you noticed a common audio refrain: "Eron Harris … for three!" He drilled 6 of 13 from deep against the Sooners.

Harris carries nearly as much of the scoring load as Staten. KU coach Bill Self said the two combine to form arguably the best backcourt in the Big 12.

Slightly bigger than his running mate, at 6-foot-3, Harris averages 17.5 points and 3.7 rebounds. He leads WVU with 64 three-pointers and a success rate of 42.7%.

Terry Henderson, No. 15

6-4, 200, so. guard

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOAX3xqKnGE

The third guard in the Mountaineers' starting lineup, Henderson averages 12.5 points a game and has produced double digits in 13 of his last 16 games.

He's not as lethal as Harris from behind the arc, but he has made 37 threes this season. He scored 17 points against OU, behind 3-for-8 shooting from three-point distance and going 4-for-4 at the foul line, where he shoots 83.6% on the year.

Devin Williams, No. 5

6-9, 255, fr. forward

A true interior player — a rarity in this lineup — Williams is the only WVU starter who won't take any shots outside. He hasn't attempted a three-pointer all season.

Williams is the biggest man in a relatively small lineup, and averages 8.8 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds. His 57 offensive rebounds are by far the most on the team.

The power forward has only made 40.7% of his shots in his freshman season, and he has five double-doubles. Williams pulled down 13 boards and scored 12 points at home against Oklahoma State, in an 73-72 loss.

Rémi Dibo, No. 0

6-7, 225, jr. forward

After tearing a meniscus in the preseason, the small forward recovered and became one of the most accurate three-point shooters on West Virginia's roster. Dibo is tied for second on the team in 3-pointers with 37, and has made them at a 40.7% clip.

He only averages 18.9 minutes a game this season, but Huggins started him each of the last two games. On the year, he averages 7.3 points and 3.2 rebounds. He had eight boards against Oklahoma.

West Virginia bench

Gary Browne, No. 14

6-1, 195, jr. guard

Kansas center Jeff Withey blocks a shot by West Virginia guard Gary Browne during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey blocks a shot by West Virginia guard Gary Browne during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A veteran presence in a reserve role, Browne leads WVU in career games played with 87.

The experienced guard averages 5.9 points in 19.4 minutes, and he shoots 42.4% from the field. He played for the Puerto Rico national team and his known for his decision-making.

Nathan Adrian, No. 11

6-9, 230, fr. forward

Now he provides a spark off the bench, but earlier this season he started 11 games. The young big man was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week back on Dec. 30, 2013.

Adrian averages 5.0 points and 2.8 rebounds but where he really bothers opponents is on the perimeter. He can stretch the defense by spotting up behind the three-point line, where he's made 27 of 72 (37.5%) this season.

His rebounding numbers (2.8 a game in 17.2 minutes) and free-throw attempts (7-for-11) indicate he doesn't play very physically in the paint.

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