The Oklahoma Sooners will be looking to rebound, literally and figuratively, after last nights dismal all around performance on the floor. After being bounced by a top tier team in the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Oklahoma will face yet another quality opponent in the West Virginia Mountaineers (who took a similar beating from the Bulldogs to open the season). This time, it will be for 3rd place in the Old Spice Classic.
West Virginia is a great addition to the basketball realm of the Big XII. This is a conference that is known for its tough-guy attitude and none have embodied that better than the Kansas St. Wildcats. However, this season may see a shift to the Mountaineers being the most physical team on the court behind the coaching of Bob Huggins.
It all starts with senior forward, Deniz Kilicli in the physicality department. This is a Turkish native who is built to be a bruiser while leading the team in rebounds per game at a clip of 7.7 (3.7 offensive) as well as assists at 2.0 per game. He could prove to be a handful in the paint for guys like Andrew Fitzgerald or Amath M'Baye.
Aaric Murray comes in to this game as the leading scorer for WVU from the center position. After sitting out a year due to the transfer rule, he has helped this team by adding 10 ppg in just over 20 minutes of playing time on average. Murray may not be the physical specimen that Kilicli is but he will certainly not go unnoticed. Kilicli and Murray give the Mountaineers a good one-two punch in the paint.
What the Mountaineers lack is a solid backcourt presence. Jabarie Hinds, Garry Browne, and Dayton transfer Juwan Staten are all capable ball handlers. However, none of these guards are great outside threats. The other down side to starting these three players is that not a single one stands taller than 6-1 which labels them as a small lineup. The silver-lining is that Matt Humphrey, a 6-5, guard has been coming of the bench to give this backcourt some size and shooting. If you ask me, he should start against Oklahoma.
All-in-all, the West Virginia Mountaineers are in a bit of rebuilding stage as they lost their two major contributors from last season. Coach Huggins will go deep into the rotation playing 10 players as they continue to try to find something that works.
This should prove to be more of an evenly matched game as the Sooners take on the Mountaineers with a 3rd place finish at stake. Catch the game on ESPNU Sunday, November 25th at 3:30 (CT).