Welcome back, West Virginia. The Mountaineers should be back on the floor on Saturday as they’ll face Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas.
It’s been a bit since we last saw the Mountaineers (9-4, 2-3 in Big 12). West Virginia’s last game was Jan. 9, when the Mountaineers hosted Texas in Morgantown, West Virginia, a game the Mountaineers lost, 72-70.
Two days later the Mountaineers had to postpone their game with Baylor due to COVID-19 protocols within the program. A couple of days later, the Mountaineers had to postpone two more games — against TCU on Jan. 16 and Oklahoma State on Jan. 19. Since then, the Mountaineers have adjusted their schedule a bit. West Virginia will play Baylor in back-to-back games — Feb. 15 in Morgantown and Feb. 18 in Waco, Texas, the latter of which is the rescheduled game.
The Mountaineers’ originally-scheduled game with TCU on Feb. 22 was pushed back to Feb. 23. It’s not clear how the Mountaineers will get the Oklahoma State game and the other TCU game rescheduled.
WVU did find a rhythm on the floor, even though they lost two of their last three games before the pause. The departure of Oscar Tshiebwe — who transferred to Kentucky after leaving the program — prompted the Mountaineers to augment their identity, putting the game more in the hands of their guards and creating more space for forward Derek Culver inside.
So, as the Mountaineers return, guard Miles McBride is the team’s leading scorer with 15.1 points per game. He also leads the team with 52 assists.
Culver returns with a double-double (13.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game), while guard Taz Sherman is averaging 12.4 points per game and Sean McNeil is averaging 10.1 points per game. Additionally, forward Jalen Bridges slid into the starting lineup in Tshiebwe’s place, and guard Kedrian Johnson was getting more playing time.
One might consider facing Kansas State, even on the road, to be a ‘soft’ landing for the Mountaineers, in terms of re-entering Big 12 action. The Wildcats are coming off a loss to Oklahoma on Tuesday and have won just one Big 12 game.
After that, the Mountaineers head back into playing ranked Big 12 teams with a game against Texas Tech on Jan. 25, followed by the Big 12-SEC Challenge game with Florida. That gives the Mountaineers a full week in Morgantown before moving into February.
And, hopefully, no more pauses.
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