West Virginia set to take on Iowa State
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 00:01
Fresh off a 1-point loss to No. 16 Kansas State during the weekend, the West Virginia men’s basketball team will head to Ames, Iowa to take on Iowa State tonight.
Though the Mountaineers have continued to improve throughout the last week, showing more energy and effort than they did during the first 12 games of the year, Iowa State has been one of the Big 12 Conference’s hottest teams.
The Cyclones have won five of their last six
games, with the only loss coming in an overtime defeat at home to No. 4 Kansas last week.
But head coach Fred Hoiberg thinks WVU will provide the Cyclones one of their toughest tests to date.
"This will be the most physical team we’ve played all year," Hoiberg said. "It’s going to be a great test for our guys. We’ve got to do a great job on the glass.
"They do as good a job as anyone in the country as far as getting their own miss and capitalizing on it. It’s a big couple of days for us to get in the right frame of mind and get the right mentality for this one."
West Virginia is looking to pick up its second Big 12 victory of the season. A win would keep the Mountaineers undefeated on the road in conference play and would give them a much-needed bounceback win following the heartbreaking loss at home Saturday.
But it’s still up in the air if the Mountaineers will have starting point guard Juwan Staten in the lineup Wednesday night.
The sophomore has sat out since the second half of WVU’s win against Texas and, although Huggins said he will travel with the team for the Iowa State game, He is still unsure if Staten will play when the Mountaineers take the court.
"Everybody’s got to be on the same page," Huggins said. "If everybody isn’t on the same page, you don’t have a very good team.
"We all make mistakes ... We’ll see where everything is and then what happens from there."
Staten is leading West Virginia in assists, averaging 2.9 per game, and is one of two Mountaineers averaging double figures in scoring. In his first season playing with WVU after transferring from Dayton, where he led the
Atlantic 10 Conference in assists, Staten is averaging more than 30 minutes per game.
With Staten on the bench against the Wildcats, sophomore Jabarie Hinds moved back into his position as the team’s primary ball handler and excelled. The Mount Vernon, N.Y., native made six of his 10 shot attempts for a team-high 15 points and three assists.
"I’m seeing the floor better because as the point guard you have to see every position on the court," Hinds said. "That really helped me.
"I just know that I was in the game a lot more,
so I just had to get comfortable and make plays out there."
A significant portion of WVU’s production this season has come thanks to Staten and fellow transfer Aaric Murray, who came to West Virginia after spending two seasons at La Salle.
Iowa State has also relied heavily on transfers to have success early on. Former Michigan State guard Korie Lucious is scoring more than 10 points per game and leads the Cyclones with 5.4 assists. And Will Clyburn, who played at Utah, is leading the team at 14.3 points per game.
Both teams have take advantage of the transfers, and it’s something that Huggins wants to continue doing in the future.
"I’ve kind of liked it," Huggins said. "We haven’t had a whole bunch but we’ve had a few over the years that turned out really well for us. I like it."
But for now, Huggins just wants to see this year’s group improve the way it has in the last week.
"I’d rather shoot 30 percent and win, than 51 percent and lose. We are getting better," Huggins said. "I think we get better and better all the time. The more experience they get, the better we get."