You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Press Virginia steams into Texas with stifling numbers


Highlights

Mountaineers top NCAA charts in steals, turnovers forced.

Baylor’s Drew: ‘They have guards who’ve been doing it for 3 years.’

High-pressure guard Jevon Carter tops a veteran cast.

Sound the alarm. The master thieves of the NCAA hardwood roll into the Erwin Center on Saturday, and Texas better keep a close eye on its belongings. Namely, the basketball.

Tenth-ranked West Virginia, is doing things defensively even it hasn’t done before. Press Virginia leads the nation in turnovers forced per game (24.6), turnover margin (+13.9) and total steals (207). Through 16 games, the Mountaineers have created turnovers on an astounding 32.6 percent of their opponents’ possessions.

They also don’t give the ball away often, just 10.8 times per game, and they’re 12th in the NCAA in assists. Small wonder the Mountaineers top the country by a wide margin in scoring margin at +28.3.

“It’s difficult to prepare for because you rarely see that style any more, not like 30 years ago when a lot of teams pressed,” said Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood.

Top-ranked Baylor couldn’t handle the heat. The Bears, averaging 12 turnovers, made 29 and were blown out 89-68 in Morgantown on Tuesday, one day after being elevated to No. 1 for the first time in school history.

“They have guards who have been doing it for three years. That’s why they’re so darn good … and keep getting better,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew.

Jevon Carter is fifth in NCAA Division I play with 52 steals this season, and he’s one of four juniors or seniors in the starting lineup, unusual for a Power Five program. All four have 20 or more steals apiece.

“West Virginia has a tremendous press, a unique press,” said Texas coach Shaka Smart. “They’re terrific at trapping. The key is their connectivity. When they force live-ball turnovers, they do a phenomenal job of turning them into layups or open shots.

“You’ve got to have poise, understand spacing and keep the ball in the middle of the floor. I also think when you’re playing an aggressive team, you’ve got to attack it with aggressiveness.”

That is a tall task for anyone, least of all a young, stumbling Longhorns team that just had one of its best ballhandlers, Tevin Mack, suspended for a violation of team rules.

“It’s not your typical zone press where you trap in a corner and do it off a made shot. They pressure all over,” Underwood said. “You need multiple ballhandlers on the floor, keen awareness and the ability to quickly pass and move the ball.”

There’s another thing that makes Press Virginia different.

“They do it for 40 minutes,” said TCU coach Jamie Dixon. “For sheer frequency, you’re going to have a higher number of turnovers.”

Dixon did note that WVU has more success with the physical nature of its press at home. On the road, the Mountaineers get hit with a lot more fouls for reaching and grabbing.

A few coaches singled out a frontcourt player — 6-foot-9 senior Nathan Adrian — as a key to the Mountaineers’ pressure because of his active style and long reach that disrupts passing lanes.

“Nathan understands angles,” Huggins said. “He makes great rotations and does a good job guarding smaller guys. I think I’m playing him too much (a team-high 28.2 minutes), but it’s hard to take him out of the game.”

Huggins is measured in assessing his team’s 14-2 start.

“A lot of our numbers are up from last year, but we got away from the fundamentals for a while,” he said. “We’re starting to get back to the basics. We’ve got some improving to do.”

Bank shots: Four Big 12 players — Kansas guards Frank Mason and Josh Jackson, Baylor forward Johnathan Motley and Iowa State guard Monte’ Morris — made the 25-man midseason cutdown for the Wooden Award. … Underwood on Morris’ 30-point, five-rebound, five-assist, four-steal game against his Cowboys: “That was his show. We were just a puppet in it.” … Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said guard Jordan Woodard, who missed nearly a month with a leg injury, is fine after playing 24 minutes against Kansas and “just needs to shake off some rust.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Who is that? Falcons' Gabriel, others make their marks
Who is that? Falcons' Gabriel, others make their marks

Midway through the season, there would have been no way to predict Taylor Gabriel would be the top scorer among Atlanta Falcons wide receivers.   Especially considering that group includes All-Pro Julio Jones.   Gabriel's surprise unveiling began when he scored his first touchdown of the season in the Falcons' 33-32 win over Green...
Texas Stars fall short in Iowa

Travis Morin scored two goals for Texas but the Stars couldn’t complete the comeback as they fell 3-2 to the Iowa Wild in an American Hockey League game Saturday night in Des Moines. A day after the Stars defeated the Wild 3-2 in overtime, they came out on the wrong end this time around. Both goaltenders had solid nights, each making over 30...
Texas women roll in Lubbock for 12th straight win
Texas women roll in Lubbock for 12th straight win

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Joyner Holmes scored 13 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds to lead the No. 12 Texas women to a 77-57 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night for its 12th straight win. Texas extends its program-best Big 12 Conference start to 8-0. The Longhorns opened conference play 5-0 three times, the latest during the 2015-16...
No. 2 Kansas 79, Texas 67: Even in defeat, Jarrett Allen proves he’s a star
No. 2 Kansas 79, Texas 67: Even in defeat, Jarrett Allen proves he’s a star

LAWRENCE, Kan. — There was a stretch in December when you really wondered if Texas freshman Jarrett Allen was worth the hype. Six points against Michigan. Four points against Long Beach State. Eleven points against Arkansas. Sure, Allen flashed an athletic move here and there. He’d hit a smooth 15-footer or score on a swooping reverse layup...
Louisiana-Lafayette star scores only TD as West tops East in Shrine
Louisiana-Lafayette star scores only TD as West tops East in Shrine

Eli McGuire made the most of his opportunity at the East-West Shrine Game. Hoping to improve his standing among NFL scouts evaluating potential help for their teams, the Louisiana-Lafayette star scored the only touchdown Saturday in the West’s 10-3 victory before a crowd of 22,198 at Tropicana Field. The 5-foot-9, 205-pound running back broke...
More Stories