UPDATING THE HORNED FROGS
Many of West Virginia's return Big 12 games have occurred within a couple of weeks of the initial contest, but Saturday's home game with TCU doesn't fall into that category. The Mountaineers opened their league slate on Jan. 4 against the Frogs, leaving a gap of almost two months before the return visit.
During that time, TCU has been ravaged with injuries, which has contributed mightily to their 15 consecutive losses in the Big 12. The Frogs haven't been competitive in many of those games, having come within ten points of their foes in just three of those contests. Five Horned Frogs are out for the season, and ten players on the roster have missed at least one game due to injury.
Despite those league woes, Kyan Anderson (Jr., F, 5-11) has been very good for TCU, shooting 50% from 3-point range in Feburary while scoring 20 or more points in five of the eight games in the month. He's also tallied at least ten points in his last ten contests. He leads the team with a 16.9 ppg average, and also deals out 4.6 assists per outing.
Freshman Karviar Shepherd (6-10, 225 lbs.) has also shown progess of late, posting his second consecutive double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds against Oklahoma State. He's been in double figures in scoring in three straight league games and has four double-doubles overall this year.
Only the very faintest of NCAA hopes remain for the Mountaineers, so the immediate goal for this contest is to get a win that guarantees a non-losing season and puts them in contention for an NIT bid. (While the NIT no longer requires a non-losing record for tournament participants, no team has ever been selected with a sub-.500 record.)
|Sat Mar 1
1:30 PM E
WVU 15-13, 7-8
TCU 9-18, 0-15
WVU - 83
TCU - 194
Othen than Shepherd, TCU is very short, with no player other than Amric Fields standing taller than 6-7. Fields, who has been plagued by injuries throughout his career in Ft. Worth, missed the last two games with soreness in his knee. His availability will be a key in this contest, as he would give the Frogs another offensive weapon with which to challenge West Virginia's shaky defense.
This game might be more about attrition and attention than talent or match-ups. Is TCU just playing out the string, or is it motivated to break its conference losing streak? Will its young, mostly inexperienced lineup play as if it has nothing to lose or will it again be ovrewhelmed?
On West Virginia's side, a lot of tickets have been sold, but crowds in the Coliseum these days are relatively quiet and subdued. Does that affect a West Virginia team whose confidence has been shaken, and whihc hasn't worked in the manner head coach Bob Huggins proscribes?
The shortish Horned Frogs don't outrebound foes often, but when they do they are 6-2 this year. That has to be of concern to a WVU squad that sometimes watches the ball come off the glass as if it has hypnotized them.
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A huge stretch: When you haven't won a game in league play, you put out game notes such as this.
TCU defeated NCAA tournament foes Kansas and Oklahoma in conference play a year ago. The Jayhawks made it to the Elite Eight, while Oklahoma fell in the NCAA Second Round. By defeating two NCAA tournament teams, the Frogs downed as many as Wichita State, which found itself in the Final Four a year ago.
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Only seven teams turn the ball over fewer times per game than West Virginia. While a good portion of that stat is due to the brilliance of Juwan Staten, it also shows that WVU as a whole tends to value and protect the ball. WVU is actually turnning the ball over less in league games (9.4 per contest) than it has overall (9.5).