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

Top-seeded Kerber stunned in first round of French Open 
Top-seeded Kerber stunned in first round of French Open 

Angelique Kerber became the first top-seeded women’s player in the Open era of tennis to lose in the first round of the French Open, falling 6-2, 6-2 to Ekaterina Makarova on Sunday.  >> Read more trending news Makarova was successful against Kerber’s serve and took advantage of the No. 1 seed’s numerous mistakes to earn...
Ex-jocks bring athleticism, diversity to NASCAR pit crews
Ex-jocks bring athleticism, diversity to NASCAR pit crews

Mike Metcalf grew up in Charlotte, played basketball and football at Charlotte Christian, and attended occasional Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers games. Charlotte Motor Speedway was about 30 minutes from his parents' home in south Charlotte, but might as well have been in another world. Metcalf was never a fan of racing ... until he made it...
Six-game Express winning streak snapped by Omaha

Garin Cecchini had three hits and scored two runs, and Luke Farrell allowed just three hits over seven innings as the Omaha Storm Chasers beat the Round Rock Express 10-0 on Saturday in Papillion, Neb. Farrell (5-2) picked up the win after he struck out eight and walked one. In the bottom of the first, Omaha grabbed the lead on a sacrifice fly by Raul...
Texas finally beats TCU to secure a spot in Big 12’s championship game
Texas finally beats TCU to secure a spot in Big 12’s championship game

OKLAHOMA CITY – For the record, Texas is 1-4 against TCU this season. The Longhorns, though, earned the win that matters the most. Michael Cantu homered and Blair Henley gave Texas six strong innings on the mound as the Longhorns beat TCU 9-3 in an elimination game at the Big 12 tournament on Saturday. Texas had lost its first four games against...
Strength in numbers boosts UT sprint relay team to nationals
Strength in numbers boosts UT sprint relay team to nationals

O’Brien Wasome didn’t have one of his better days on Saturday. But that didn’t prevent his fellow Longhorn sprinters from having one of theirs. Wasome, who recently had been handling the leadoff leg on Texas’ 400-meter relay in addition to his long jump and triple jump duties, didn’t come out of the blocks at the NCAA...
More Stories