MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — The West Virginia men’s basketball team welcomes you back to the WVU Coliseum, where the Mountaineers (10-13, 2-8 Big 12) have played at once in two weeks and their time on the road wasn’t all that productive. Three road losses in that time frame came by an average of 24.3 points per game, prompting the question: What changes for this team on the road?
“I don’t know. Maybe its our inexperience with all of the young guys we have right now,” said West Virginia freshman guard Jordan McCabe. “Really, I’m getting tired of using that. I don’t like making excuses, but we need to play the same way we play at home just the same as when we go on the road or at a neutral site or at some playground. We have to be the same team that shows up every day.”
The Mountaineers will not be on the road today, as Texas (13-10, 5-5) comes in for a visit needing a win just to try and stay in the thick of the jumbled Big 12 race, not to mention to stay in the running for an at-large spot in the NCAA tournament. The Longhorns are a bubble team at best right now, with impressive wins (North Carolina, Arkansas, Purdue and Kansas State), as well as frustrating losses (Radford, VCU and Georgia).
What Texas also has is a pair of guards who have played pretty well recently. Kerwin Roach II has scored in double figures in his last nine games. The last team to hold him to single digits was West Virginia, in what was a 61-54 loss to the Longhorns last month. In that game, Matt Coleman III hit a step-back 3-pointer to seal the game with 1:03 remaining, and he,too, has been playing well recently. He scored 18 points with six rebounds and five assists in Texas’ 84-72 win against Baylor earlier this week.
Let’s move on to some news, where West Virginia coach Bob Huggins gave a sort of update on the status of forward Sagaba Konate, who has missed 14 consecutive games and will miss his 15th today with a right knee injury.
To paraphrase, Huggins said a lot of options remain on the table, including Konate taking a medical redshirt, which would force him to miss the rest of the season. Huggins hinted that Konate is still a vital part of the team and would be welcomed back at any time.
“I mean, he travels with the team. He’s been with the team,” Huggins said.
Huggins also said the decision on Konate’s future will come from Konate and his family.
“He talks about coming back and then he talks to his brother and things change,” Huggins said. “I think he ought to do what’s in his best interest, but I think he should get a more educated opinion.”
As for the rest of the game, here’s what you need to know:
TV: ESPN2 for the 8 p.m. tip-off. BETTING LINE: Texas is favored by 3.5 points.
THREE GOOD QUESTIONS
What’s the status of Beetle Bolden? Huggins gave a solid “I don’t know” on Friday, but Bolden has not practiced with the team since coming up with the high ankle sprain against Tennessee and he walked into practice Friday with a crutch and holding his walking cast in his hand. It looks like he’s getting better, but don’t expect the guard to play today against Texas.
So, what are the realistic options for Konate’s return? Like Huggins has said, that answer will come when Konate’s family is satisfied that his knee is ready to go. That may not be this season. So, what are the options after that? Well, a medical redshirt has been discussed, but is unlikely. If Konate stays in school and returned healthy next season, it would be highly doubtful he or his family would want him to stay in school any longer. The flip side is it doesn’t cost anything to apply for a medical redshirt, so why not just in case? The bigger question is whether or not Konate would want to return to school next season? Playing in Europe actually places Konate closer to his home in Mali, Africa, and he could make a few bucks. Playing at WVU would likely get him a little more exposure and better coaching. The question there is how is the relationship between Huggins and Konate’s family? From what I’ve seen of Konate’s body language lately, there is nothing there to suggest his relationship with WVU and its coaches is anything beyond repair. Huggins is on record as wanting Konate back. It’s really up to the kid and his family, but they do have some options.
Is WVU a different team at home? Let’s put it this way: The Mountaineers are 8-4 at home and have outscored their opponents by an average of 5.25 points in those 12 games. In true road games, WVU is 0-6 and have been outscored by an average of 18.83 points per game. So, yeah, the Mountaineers are a much different team on the road.
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