West Virginia Looks to Bounce Back against Austin Peay

Christopher Hall

Morgantown, WV – The West Virginia Mountaineers (7-1) host the Austin Peay Governors (4-4) Thursday night inside the WVU Coliseum at 7:00 pm in the first meeting between the two schools.

Austin Peay has won three out of last its four games with the only loss coming on the road to an undefeated Arkansas team 69-61. All four losses (Western Kentucky, Tulsa, Vanderbilt, Arkansas) have come on the road by an average of 13.8 points per game.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins has some familiarity with Governors head coach Matt Figger.

“Figg’s a good coach,” said Huggins. “He spent a lot of time with (South Carolina head coach) Frank (Martin). They play, defensively, the way Frank’s team play. They’ve got good players.”

Governors leading scorer Terry Taylor (Jr. G 6-5, 230) has hit double figures in 64 of 75 career games, including all eight games this season (18.5). Taylor is shooting 53.7% from the field and 36.7% from three-point range. He posted a season-high 37 points versus Southeast Louisiana, five points shy of his 42 points against Morehead State last season. Taylor also leads the team in rebounds, averaging 9.1 per game along with forward/guard Eli Abaev’s (Jr. 6-8, 210) 7.6.

His counterpart is freshman Jordan Adams (6-3, 200), who is averaging 15.0 points per game.

“(He) Creates off the bounce,” said Huggins. “He can catch and shoot… and they’re good inside. They’re good and deep inside. They’re not as big as we are but they’re 6-7.”

West Virginia is coming off a 70-68 road loss to St John’s. The Mountaineers committed 22 turnovers in the game, an issue that has plagued the team this year, upping its average to 14.3 a game in arguably the worst performance of the season.

“That was a very big lesson we had to learn,” said West Virginia forward Derek Culver. “You keep piling on wins but there are insecurities within those wins, you know, kinks and wrinkles we haven’t really figured out. So, we get to a certain opponent, who exposed those, so I feel like us taking this loss was an eye-opener and we looked at it and said we can work on those mistakes we have on our games… Coach mentioned the other day, he said ‘why do we need to take a loss to figure out what we have to do?’ And that makes a lot of sense because who likes to lose. That really made me open my eyes about the whole you have to lose to learn a lesson."

By his standards, Derek Culver had a bit of a slow start to the season, but in the last two games, he’s averaged 21.5 points and 14.5 rebounds.

The Mountaineers haven’t shot the ball particularly well this season, but one of the shooters Huggins and his staff brought in during the offseason, Sean McNeil, has started to find his rhythm, hitting 9-18 behind the arc.

“I’m adjusting, kind of like everybody else does," said McNeil. “It takes a little bit, but time heals and we’re getting better as a team and that’s the most important thing.”

Starting point guard Jordan McCabe turned his ankle two days before the St John’s game and as a result, his minutes were limited to 12. However, McCabe says he’s ready to go against Austin Peay.

“Ankles good.” Said McCabe “I mean it was a fairly good sprain. I’m no doctor, but nothing is broke. I would say probably a grade two sprain… I’m all good now.”