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WVU basketball: Staten flirting with rare feat

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- It's been 1,204 games and almost 39 years since the last triple-double at West Virginia. It may be a matter of time until the next.

Junior point guard Juwan Staten has already flirted with history a few times this season, including four points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in Monday night's 96-47 win against Loyola, the first time he hasn't scored in double figures this season.

Staten averages 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 7.5 assists for the Mountaineers (6-2), who play Missouri (7-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena. The game is part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge and will be televised by ESPN2.

"It's definitely possible," said Staten, whose assist average ranks No. 4 nationally. "Whether it happens or not is to be determined, but I think it's a definite possibility. We've got a lot of great shooters on the team who step in and make shots. I'm shooting the ball and I've shown I can rebound, too. In the right game and if everything goes right, I definitely feel like I can get a triple-double."

There have been just four in WVU history and none since Jerome Anderson had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a win against Boston University in January 1975. Levi Phillips had one a season earlier against Virginia Tech, Rod Thorn had one in 1962 against St. Bonaventure and Jim Sottile had one against New York University in 1952.

There have been just eight games with a player finishing with at least 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a game in the past 10 seasons - Johannes Herber and Joe Mazzulla twice, Alex Ruoff and Devin Ebanks once, Gary Browne once last season and Staten once this season.

Only Mazzulla and Ebanks had a double-double.

Ebanks had 22 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists against Seton Hall in 2009, only the fourth player to go 20-15-7 in a game and the first not named Thorn, West or Hundley. Mazzulla's 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the 2008 NCAA Tournament against Duke was the first time a player had at least eight of each.

D'or Fischer came close twice with points, rebounds and blocks. The center had 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks against IUPUI in December 2003 and 11 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks against Rhode Island in the NIT in March 2004.

Staten had 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a loss to Virginia Tech last month. He finished with 20-9-5 against Georgia Southern and 16-7-5 two days later against Presbyterian.

"The debacle a year ago hit him about as hard as it hit anybody," said Coach Bob Huggins, who had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists in Anderson's triple-double game. "When your point guard takes a lot of pride in being a point guard, which he does, and everyone says, 'It's your team. You run the team,' he doesn't want that to happen again. Obviously, he's doing everything he can possibly do."

It begins with scoring and his sudden ability to make jumpers and attack the basket. The new rules for defenders have empowered Staten this season, too. Only 71 players in the country have shot more than his 53 free throws, proof that Staten has quickly realized that opponents have a hard time legally keeping him from driving to the basket.

"The new rules have let me know I have to stay attacking more and continue to put people in position where they have play great defense or foul me," Staten said.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Staten is a better rebounder than ever before, too. He has six games with at least five rebounds this season, already one more than he had all of last season, and his 10 against Loyola set a career high.

The way the Mountaineers play this season with looser defenses and taller players on the perimeter asks guards to help out rebounding.

"I actually think it's easier for me to go grab rebounds in the position I'm in rather than being under the rim," he said. "If you're under the rim, it's harder to locate the ball for rebounds. When you're on the perimeter, you can see where people are shooting the ball. You kind of know when somebody shoots the ball on one side that nine out of 10 times it's going to bounce on the other side.

"You've got to make sure you get the loose balls bouncing out there. With my athleticism, I try to beat people to the spot. What I do best is beat people to the spot because I know where the ball is going to go."

He's further enabled by WVU's revived offense and the wealth of shooters around him. Browne, Eron Harris, Terry Henderson Nathan Adrian and Remi Dibo are all 3-point shooters. The Mountaineers shoot 46.5 percent from 3-point range, which ranks No. 3 nationally, and they would be better than No. 22 nationally in field-goal percentage (49.2) if they attempted more 2-point shots.

WVU is also averaging about seven more possessions per game than they did last season and the 1.22 points per possession is No. 16 nationally.

"I have to read how the game is going," he said. "If I have a player who's made a few in a row, I may want to go to his side a little more and get him the ball, but I could have another guy catching fire and I'd want to get him the ball more. I just don't worry about who I'm getting the ball because I'm constantly surrounded by players who can make shots."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@ailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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