In a Quick Turnaround, West Virginia Meets Nicholls State

Christopher Hall

Morgantown, WV – The West Virginia Mountaineers (8-1) welcomes its second opponent in a span of 43 hours. The Nicholls State Colonels (6-4) are making its first-ever trip to Morgantown in the first meeting between the two programs.

Nicholls State is coming into the game on a four-game winning streak, averaging 113.3 points in the last three games against non-division one opponents. However, West Virginia and Nicholls State do have two common opponents.

Former Mountaineer D’Angelo Hunter led the Colonels with 17 points and four steals in a 75-70 road win over Pitt. Nicholls State also took on Rhode Island but fell short 70-65 on the Rams' home floor. Hunter is fourth on the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game.

In the first five games of the season, Hunter was among the starting five and was averaging 11 ppg. He’s come off the bench the last five games and is averaging 9.6 ppg during that span.

An opponent of note, the Colonels traveled to Baton Rouge and played tough against a solid LSU team in a 10-point loss.

Nicholls State senior guard Dexter McClanahan (6-4, 185) leads the team with 17.1 points per game. Andre Jones (Jr. G 6-4, 200) and Elvis Harvey Jr (Sr. F 6-8, 220) round out the four players averaging double figures.

The Colonels' defense is statistically among the best in the country. They force an average of 21.2 turnovers a game - good for 27.2% of its opponents' possessions, ranking them fourth in the NCAA.

West Virginia added a new wrinkle to its offense after being heavily dependent on getting the ball down to their bigs Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe. Mountaineer head coach Bob Huggins spread his team out looking for movement in a win against Austin Peay Thursday night. As a result, West Virginia got better looks around the rim, shooting 50.7% from the field.

Emmitt Matthews Jr got back on track with his first double-double of the season after leading the team in scoring with 16 points (7-9 FG, 2-2 3PT) and 10 rebounds after a tough outing against St. Johns last weekend.

Sean McNeil is getting into a groove as of late. Coming off the bench, he’s shooting 47.6% (10-21) from three-point range in the last five games.

However, Huggins wasn’t happy despite their largest margin of victory of the season. He criticized his guards for not getting the ball down on the post in their half-court sets.

“You can’t pass it when you’re dribbling it, and you particularly can’t pass it when you’re dribbling it around your waist or higher, said Huggins. “It takes a while to go down and come back up. I felt bad for Derek and Oscar to a degree today because they’re in there posting, and the guys are leaning on them and grabbing them. After what they went through the other day, we’re like, (the guards are) going to get it to you and didn’t get it to them. We need to get it to them. When we finally threw it into Derek, he made two great passes for wide-open shots. I think we went 1-for-2 on them, but they can do some things down there. We have to reward them. That’s what I told those guys. I said, why don’t we do this? Why don’t we put you down here and have somebody stick their knee up your behind, try to root you to the corner, (then) take their arm and hook it over your shoulder. (They will) try to yank your shoulder around and get up underneath your armpit and hook you and try to pull you around. See how you guys like it. Then some guy will stand out there and dribble and not even look to pass it to you.”

West Virginia and Nicholls State tip-off at 2:00 pm on AT&T Sportsnet and being streamed at WVUSports.com.

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