MORGANTOWN—It seems like every game the past few weeks has been a “must win” game for the West Virginia University men’s basketball program, and for the most part, they haven’t won them.
After starting off February strong with wins against Kansas State and Iowa State, the Mountaineers have found themselves digging a bigger and bigger hole, dropping five of their last six games with their only win coming against 14-14 Oklahoma State in a game which WVU was still down five points at the half before pulling out the win in Morgantown.
Taking an in-depth look at the statistical side of things, it appears that plaguing the Mountaineers more than anything this season has been free-throw shooting, three-point shooting and turnovers.
WVU is currently 337th in the nation in three-point shooting, coming in at a poor 28.9%. JUCO transfer Sean McNeil leads the team in that category with a 33.8% average, just ahead of another JUCO transfer, Taz Sherman, shooting at a 32.0% rate.
WVU is also an atrocious 334th in the nation in free-throw shooting, only making 63.7% of their attempts on the season. Sophomore forward Derek Culver, who started out the season strong and has taken about 1/6th of the team’s free throws attempts, now only shoots 54.3% from the line.
The last glaring weakness in WVU’s game would be total turnovers. Through 28 games this season, the Mountaineers are averaging 14.8 turnovers-per-game, which ranks 305th in the nation.
Lastly, a strange statistic when looking at the type of team that WVU has put together this season is in the “blocked shots” category. Although the Mountaineers regularly play three big bodies over 6’9, they are only 111th in the nation in blocked shots, averaging just 3.6 per game.
West Virginia only has three games remaining on their schedule to begin turning around the sinking ship, starting with a home contest today against Oklahoma at 4:00pm.
They will end their regular season with an away contest at Iowa State on Tuesday, March 3, before coming home to host the #2 team in the nation, Baylor, on March 7th, in both teams’ regular season finales. The Mountaineers have already played the three remaining teams once this season and have had mixed results. They lost to Oklahoma in Norman on February 8th by the score of 69-59 after defeating Iowa State the game prior by the score of 76-61.
The Mountaineers also played Baylor just two weeks ago, dropping a 79-50 to the then-#1 team in Waco.
They will then play in the Big 12 Conference Tournament from March 11-14 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO before awaiting their NCAA tournament fate on Selection Sunday.