MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia attempted a season-low 48 shots in Saturday's loss to No. 8 Kansas. Melvin Ejim scored a Big 12-record 48 points in Iowa State's win the same day against TCU.
Those worlds collide tonight when the Mountaineers play host to the 16th-ranked Cyclones at 7 p.m. inside the Coliseum. The game will be televised by ESPNU.
"Forty eight points is amazing, no matter who you're going against," WVU point guard Juwan Staten said. "He's a great player who's playing great. I don't have too much to say about that, especially since we're playing them. That's not really good for us if he's scoring the ball like that."
Ejim, who last season led the conference in rebounding, is the Big 12's leading scorer this season. His outburst against the Horned Frogs raised his average from 18.3 to 19.8 points per game. Ejim now takes aim at a WVU defense that's the easiest to score against in the conference and allows opponents to shoot 44 percent from the floor.
"This will get a lot of national attention, obviously because the fact it's a Big 12 record, but there have been some pretty special players who have gone through this league," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said Saturday. "I remember when I was in the front office (with the Minnesota Timberwolves) and one of the first games I scouted was Texas and Colorado and Kevin Durant dropped 40 and 20 (rebounds).
"Guys like Durant and Blake Griffin and all the great players who have gone through this league, and Melvin Ejim's name is at the top for points.
"It's unbelievable for a guy who probably doesn't get as much credit as he deserves."
The 6-foot-6 senior forward from Toronto bested Marcus Smart's 39-point game against Memphis in November on the same day the Oklahoma State star disgraced himself by shoving a fan near the end of a loss at Texas Tech. Ejim built his scoring average this season despite never scoring more than 22 points before more than doubling that Saturday.
"I guess this was the game they let him rock," WVU guard Eron Harris said.
Ejim, who ended up setting nine Big 12 records and matching another, was also efficient and did his damage on 24 shots. When Harris scored 33 points at home against Duquesne in November, he took 19 shots.
Ejim made 20 shots and most of them were easy. He dunked seven times and had 11 layups, and he made his only two 3-point shots. Harris made six 3s against the Dukes. Ejim was also 6-for-6 at the free-throw line. When Staten scored 35 points against Kansas State last month, he shot 8-for-13 from the floor and 18-for-21 from the free-throw line.
"The guys did a great job of finding me in transition and giving me the ball in places I can score," said Ejim, who also had a career-high 18 rebounds against TCU and averages 8.6 per game. "They made really selfless plays. We were giving the ball up and luckily I was on the receiving end."