Know the Big 12 Basketball Foe: BYU prepares for Big 12 clash with West Virginia

For only the second time in program history the BYU basketball will square off against the West Virginia Mountaineers. In their first meeting as conference foes both squads are looking to build off recent wins. The Cougars are coming off an impressive home performance in a victory over the Texas Longhorns while the Mountaineers look to achieve back-to-back wins for the first time this season. As the season reaches its midpoint, a win on Saturday could prove to be of great importance for both squads. Here is a look at the West Virginia basketball team prior to its home clash with BYU.

A season of highs and lows

The Mountaineers currently boast the worst overall record in the Big 12 at 8-13. However, it is important to note that despite their record this squad is incredibly dangerous. West Virginia has yet to win a game on the road this season, but it has managed an 8-5 record on its home floor. This includes victories over No. 25 Texas, No. 3 Kansas, and a Cincinnati squad that beat the Cougars in the Marriott Center. While their sits well below .500, the Mountaineers have shown an ability to win big games on their home floor. With BYU making the trip to Morgantown for the first time as Big 12 members fans can expect them to be met by a hostile and energetic crowd hoping to see their team take down yet another top 25 team.

Bottom of the barrel statistics

Statistically speaking, the Cougars are top tier in the Big 12. West Virginia is not. In fact, the Mountaineeers are ranked last in both team defense and offense as they surrender 72.2 points per game while scoring and average of only 68.3. Much of their issues stem from rebounding struggles throughout the season. They rank last in the Big 12 averaging only 34.7 rebounds per game and are the only team in the conference with a negative in the rebounding differential.

Offensively they have struggled from the field shooting at 41.5% as a team. They also are ranked 12th to in assists per game at 13.2. BYU in contrast is averaging 20.2. From a numbers standpoint the Cougars are heavy favorites coming into the contest.

A matter of health

Numbers never tell the full story. It is easy to look at the Mountaineers record and statistics and write them off. However, West Virginia has been hampered by injuries this season. In fact, four of their five leading scorers this season have missed at least nine games this season. That includes senior forward Jesse Edwards, who is averaging a 14.8 points per game to go along with 8.4 rebounds. Edwards scored 25 points to go along with 10 boards in the Mountaineers’ victory over Cincinnati on Wednesday. Guard ReaQuan Battle is also healthy after missing 10 games this season. He is averaging a team high 15.7 points per game.

In fact, all of West Virginia’s five leading scorers suited up and played against the Bearcats in the win. They are all expected to make appearances against the Cougars on Saturday.

Conclusion

There are no “gimmes” in the Big 12. As BYU enters into this important midseason stretch, it will have to compete at an elite level to beat all of its conference foes. West Virginia is looking to salvage its season and a win against a nationally ranked Cougars squad would be a massive step in that direction. BYU fans can expect another battle in what could prove to be an incredibly important result for their long term goals.

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