MORGANTOWN - Juwan Staten leads the Big 12 in three categories and is in the top three in two others, but everything the point guard does for West Virginia goes back to one thing he doesn't do.
Staten just will not foul. No one in the Big 12 plays more and fouls less than the junior from Dayton.
"He's not allowed to," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "The truth of the matter is from the first day we said, 'You can't foul. We've got to do some things to help you, but you've got to help yourself.'"
WVU needs Staten on the floor and out of foul trouble because he is the team's most valuable player. He's second in the league in scoring (18 points per game) and third in field-goal percentage (52.7) and leads the league in assists (5.95 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.91).
Most important is that nobody in the conference is playing more than Staten. He averages a league-high 37.05 minutes per game and has played all 40 minutes nine times and 44 minutes once. His brief rest on the way to a career-high 35 points Saturday against Kansas State was his first in four games.
Yet Staten has only committed 33 fouls in 22 games for the Mountaineers (13-9, 5-4 Big 12).
"He's probably our best perimeter defender," Huggins said. "Actually, he is our best perimeter defender. Actually, he's our best defender, now that I think about it."
Only three other players in the Big 12 average at least 25 minutes and have committed fewer fouls - and none of them play as much as Staten.
Baylor's Kenny Chery averages 28.3 minutes and has committed 30 fouls. Texas Tech's Toddrick Gotcher averages 26.7 minutes and has matched State's foul total. TCU's Amric Fields is the only other player averaging 30 minutes per game with fewer fouls and he's missed seven games while committing 25 fouls.
"I feel like it makes me look like a weak defender when I foul," Staten said. "I feel like if you foul it's because somebody put you in a situation where you're hopeless. I don't like to be put in that situation."
Staten hasn't really been in foul trouble all season. He's committed more than three fouls just once and he played all 40 minutes when he finished with four fouls against Missouri.