No. 14 West Virginia faces its third top-five opponent of the season when they play host to the fourth-ranked Texas Longhorns on Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN.
The Mountaineers have faced the Longhorns 21 times in history, with most of those meetings coming since WVU’s entrance into the Big 12 in 2012. WVU coach Bob Huggins has a lot of respect for this year’s squad, saying it’s the best he’s faced by far due to its experienced guards and the poise with which they play.
“You can probably add in a couple high school All-Americans, but I think the guards are really what makes them go,” he said.
A trio of upperclassmen in the backcourt — Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey and Matt Coleman III — lead the squad in scoring. Coleman III tops the list with 13.7, but all three are putting up more than 13 points per game. Right behind is Greg Brown, a freshman five-star recruit and the only signing for Texas coach Shaka Smart in the 2020 class.
That will be a tough challenge for the Mountaineers, who are coming into this one on the momentum of their dramatic comeback win over Oklahoma State on Jan. 4. Huggins says his team is a little banged up ahead of the game, but they’ll be ready to go. Namely, Sean McNeil has been battling a toe injury (Huggins said he’s been better in practice, however), two guys have the flu, and Derek Culver has been “limping around.”
“If you look at the film of what happens to [Culver] during a game, you’ll understand why he’s so banged up,” Huggins said.
Culver and Taz Sherman are Huggins’s “go-to guys,” and that was especially apparent against OSU when the duo combined for 42 points. One of the main stars, however, has been Deuce McBride, leading the team at 15.3 points per game.
Now with a new roster, McBride has spearheaded the Mountaineers’ adjustment to a new, more open offense.
“We’re more guard- and wing-oriented, and I think if we can space it out and throw it to a guy like Derek, where he’s iso’d down there and we can space around him, he’s a good enough passer to find the open guy,” McBride said. “I think those are the biggest changes.”
The Mountaineers and the Longhorns tip off at 1 p.m. on ESPN at the WVU Coliseum.