Against Georgetown on Jan. 26, the Charlotte, N.C., native was the only Mountaineer player in double figures with 22 points, connecting on 9-of-17 shots from the field and 4-of-10 attempts from 3-point land. Owens also grabbed a team-high seven boards in the contest. On Jan. 23 against the Herd, Owens scored 11 points in a key three-minute span in the second half that helped the Mountaineers pull away from Marshall 58-51, in the Chesapeake Capital Classic in Charleston, W.Va.
The Mountaineers are now 16-3, 5-1 in conference play and will need another big night from Owens in tonight's matchup with No. 4 Rutgers at the Coliseum. The SCarlet Knights (17-2, 7-0) are first in the league standings after a 63-54 win over Villanova. RU is trying to win a school-best 13th straight game at WVU.
"This is an opportunity for us to play another ranked team," West Virginia head coach Mike Carey told MSNSportsNet.com. "We need to consistently beat some ranked teams and build our resume and this is a chance to play at home against a really good basketball team. It's a great opportunity for our players. This is a little bit bigger of a game because they're ranked and we're ranked but every conference game is a big game. They are on a tough stretch right now and we are, too. This is a game they think they need to get and we feel we need to get."
West Virginia (16-3, 5-1) has won 20 of its last 21 games at home, including 14 straight overall and 10 in a row in league play dating back to last season. A season-high crowd of 2,328 fans turned out to watch the Mountaineers dispatch Georgetown 67-35 last Saturday. The game has been dubbed "Mountaineer Maniacs Night." The first 75 Maniacs through the doors will receive mesh shorts. The first 100 students overall will receive free t-shirts.
"I've said all along I think we'll have a great crowd and a great atmosphere here," Carey said.
Rutgers, which allows an NCAA-best 48 points per game, is forcing an average of 16 turnovers - the exact number WVU averages. RU leads the all-time series 37-9. It is just 5-3, however, against Carey. West Virginia has won two of the last three at home. The game will be televised on PBS.