- Created: February 27th, 2016
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Saturday NCAAB Action | WVM @ OKST
By Don Phillips
West Virginia Mountaineers at Oklahoma State Cowboys
DATE: Saturday, February 27, 2016
LOCATION: Gallagher-Iba Arena (13,611) in Stillwater, Oklahoma
TIPOFF: 6:00 p.m. ET
SERIES: Series tied 4-4
TV: ESPNU (Jason Benetti and Reid Gettys)
RADIO: Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG (Tony Caridi, Jay Jacobs & Dan Wolfgang)
Despite an ankle injury, point guard Tyree Griffin has been off the charts of late. The sophomore has posted 20 assists to just three turnovers over the last two games, including a 12-assist performance against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse that was just one dime shy of the KU opponent record set by D.J. Augustin. He followed that up with eight assists and zero turnovers against Texas Tech last Saturday. Griffin is now averaging 4.33 assists per game in league play, which ranks fourth in the Big 12.
Jeff Newberry can affect the game in many ways, and is at his best when he’s filling up the stat sheet. With two double-doubles, the senior is the first OSU player under 6-foot-2 with multiple points/rebounds double-doubles since Maurice Baker in 2001. The defensive glue guy for the Cowboys, Newberry is averaging 1.93 steals per Big 12 game, which ranks third in the league.
Travis Ford has jokingly said he is coaching his third or fourth different Cowboy team this season, but there’s a lot of truth to that. After losing three starters from last year’s team, Ford and the staff spent the offseason molding the squad around senior captain Phil Forte. OSU lost Forte to a left elbow injury in the third game of the season, and OSU spent the next month redefining itself. Point guard Jawun Evans emerged as one of the nation’s top freshmen, but an injury to his right shoulder on Feb. 3 had Ford once again going to the drawing board.
The Cowboys field a solid defensive unit that ranks third the Big 12 in both field goal percentage defense at 40.6 percent and scoring defense at 67.1 points per game allowed. OSU has held three of its last six opponents under 40 percent shooting, and four of its last six opponents to 23 points or less in the first half. The Cowboys have held their Big 12 opponents to 70.5 points and 43.2 percent shooting, which ranks third and fourth in the conference, respectively.
Leyton Hammonds’ game has evolved tremendously since his arrival in Stillwater in 2013. Primarily a spot shooter in his first two seasons, the junior has molded himself into a stretch forward with the ability to drive or pull up with a formidable 12-foot jumper. Hammonds has reached double figures 13 times this year, including seven of the last eight games.
WVU ranks second in the country in offensive rebounds and forced turnovers, and ranks third in steals and FT attempts. They are forcing its opponents to turn it over on 24.7 percent of their possessions, the best percentage in the country.
West Virginia holds its opponents to 0.92 points per possession. WVU averages 21.1 points off turnovers and 17.1 points per game from second chance points. They have forced 30 or more turnovers in three games this season. They have had at least seven steals in all but four games and has forced 14 or more turnovers in all but four games.
WVU has four players who rank in the top 11 in the Big 12 in steals: Carter (5th), Phillip (7th), Miles (9th) and Paige (11th). WVU leads the country with its bench averaging 34.1 ppg. WVU’s bench has scored 30 or more in 17 of the last 20 games.
WVU has shot 40 percent or better in 21 games this season, including six games of 50 percent or higher. The Mountaineers have been ranked 57 weeks in the AP poll under Bob Huggins, including 22 weeks in the AP Top 10.
Selection: West Virginia Over