Preview: WVU - VMI

West Virginia makes a stopover in Charleston, W. Va., on its way home from Puerto Rico to face VMI in the Capital City.


SCOUTING THE KEYDETS

Pegged as a mid-pack finisher in the Southern Conference, VMI rides an uptempo pace and a willingness to fire away from all distances. Averaging 32 3-point attempts per game, the Keydets can mask shortcomings in other areas by hitting from long range, and can pile up points in a hurry, but struggle at times to score from inside the arc -- a problem that contributed heavily to their two losses this year.

Sophomore guard Q.J. Peterson (6-0, 190 lbs.) leads the VMI sniping brigade with 28 attempts from downtown through four games, yielding 22.5 points per contest. He's joined by 5-11 guard Brian Brown (8-21, 12.5 ppg), 6-6 forward Jordan Weethe (8-18, 10.3 ppg), 6-3 guard Tim Marshall (10-19, 10.0 ppg) and 6-3 guard Julian Eleby (4-13, 8.0 ppg) in a group that's unafraid to let fly from anywhere at any time. Head coach Duggar Baucom encourages that approach as part of his freewheeling, fast-paced attack, and there's no denying the offensive results it produces. The Keydets are #1 in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (43.9%) and score 92.3 points per outing.

The fast pace hasn't hurt VMI a great deal on the boards to date, as it haold a one rebound per game edge over its four foes. Of course, it hasn't faced a team with the reboudning prowess of West Virginia yet, but it would be a mistake to assume that the Keydets simply cede the boards to its foes. Philip Anglade (6-5, 210 lbs.) leads VMI on the glass with 7.3 per game, but also gets support from the buards, including Weethee (5.5) and Peterson (4.0). Backup forward Craig Hinton, who did not play in the team's first two games, is also chipping in with five rebounds per contest.

Given VMI's fast pace, it's not surprising that it has piled up more than an average number of turnovers. The raw numbers show more than 16 per game, but given its high possession rate, the Keydets are actually near the middle of NCAA ratings in terms of turnovers percentage, giving the ball away on a bit more than 20% of their possessions. (WVU's number is 16.6 -- putting it in the top 50 in the country.)

Another outgrowth of the system is the fact that the Keydet bench is heavily utilized, which keeps every dressed member of the team in the contest. Nine members average more than 14.5 minutes per game, with the other three subs all getting at least eight minutes per outing.


OUTLOOK

A big contrast in styles -- with one noticeable overlap -- highlights the outlook for the Mountaineer - Keydet battle in the state capital.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Wed Nov 26
7:30 PM E
Charleston Civic Center
Charleston, WV
Records
WVU 5-0, 0-0
VMI 2-2, 0-0
Series
WVU 43-5
TV
WV Local
Sirius/XM
NA/NA
RPI
WVU - 23
VMI - 303
As noted above, VMI runs and guns with abandon, getting away the first available shot and playing at high speed. West Virginia wants to run too, but it isn't in such a hurry to take the first available 20-footer. When it gets the ball into the halfcourt, the Mountaineers will want to take advantage of Devin Williams, Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton inside, where they should be able to score against the less bulky Keydets. VMI yielded an astounding 84 points in the paint to UNC Wilmington in its loss to the Seahawks over the weekend, and without a doubt the Mountaineer coaching staff will be emphasizing that in video study and the scouting report as the team gathers in Charleston.

WVU often presses to simply speed up the pace of the game and get opponents playing too quickly, but it's not likely to achieve that goal against VMI, for which no pace is too fast. Thus, the Mountaineers will likely adjust their press to accomplish two other goals. First, they'll go for initial steals with traps in the backcourt, but if those don't occur they'll also concentrate on trapping and slowing the ball at the midcourt and 28-foot lines They'll need to do so to prevent open shots, as VMI isn't likely to slow down at all when it breaks Mountaineer pressure. WVU will also emphasize recovery once the ball gets past the initial traps of the press -- it will have to get all of its defenders back quickly and find their men in order to prevent those quick open shots.

West Virginia as already shown the ability to play four guards at times, and if the Mountaineers struggle to cover VMI's shooters, it won't be a surprise to see a quartet of perimeter players on the court at times. Head coach Bob Huggins has shown no hesitation to play his newcomer group of Jaysean Paige, Daxter Miles, Jevon Carter and Tarik Phillip at important junctures, so there could be times with this game resembles a six-foot-and-under league.

On the flip side, this is a game in which West Virginia's big should dominate. VMI isn't going to yield meekly, but there's no reason that Williams, Macon, Holton and Nathan Adrian cant take the ball into the lane and score. While that's not Adrian's forte, he showed a nice ove from the block into the lane on which he was fouled, and this would be a good game in which he could work further on developing a move or two when he has to fill a big man role.


FAST BREAKS

West Virginia's team is wrapping up what amounts to a ten-day road trip, even though the game in Charleston will be in front of friendly fans. The Mountaineers departed last Tuesday for Puerto Rico and will return home after the VMI contest. While they'll be sleeping in familiar beds, they'll be mostly alone on campus, as school is closed for Thanksgiving break.

* * *

VMI Set a school record for margin of victory by blasting Johnson University 124-42 last week. The 82-pont margin bested the previous standard of 74. Johnson, by the way, is a member of the NCCAA -- that's the National Christian College Athletic Association.

* * *

Both teams are committing 20 fouls per game, but West Virginia, due to more halfcourt offense, could benefit at a greater level than VMI from opposing hacks. The Mountaineers are averaging 25 free throw attempts per game, while VMI, in part due to its run and gun offense, gets just 16.5 per outing.


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