www.charlestondailymail.com WVU Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers TCU's Zeigler finally gets chance to visit WVU Coliseum http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129646 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129646 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:34:54 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Pardon Trey Zeigler for sounding overly ambitious, but the TCU guard has been looking forward to Saturday for a few years now and for two unusual reasons.

Zeigler played his first two college seasons for his father, Ernie, at Central Michigan. When Ernie was fired after the 2012 season, Zeigler transferred to Pitt and was eligible to play right away and would have been a part of the Backyard Brawl had it not come to an end the year before.

"I missed out on it, but I heard all the stories about the rivalry and their arena," Zeigler said. "I was kind of upset I never got to be a part of that."

The Pitt-WVU series stopped after the 2011-12 season as the Panthers moved to the ACC and WVU headed to the Big 12. Zeigler's lone season with the Panthers was the first without a game between the two schools since 1918. Zeigler nevertheless gets to play in the Coliseum on Saturday when the Horned Frogs (14-4, 1-4 Big 12) play the 18th-ranked Mountaineers (15-3, 3-2) at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.

The game is sold out.

"I've heard about the place basically through my teammates at Pitt once I got there," Zeigler said. "They used to talk about how rough the crowds were at West Virginia during the rivalry and how big those games were. I didn't get to play them, but we were hoping maybe we'd get a non-conference game with West Virginia, but it never happened that way when I was there."

A fifth-year senior who sat out last season, Zeigler has added inspiration for his one time in the building. He wants to play against WVU's Juwan Staten, the conference's preseason player of the year who was sick and didn't play when the Mountaineers won at TCU earlier this month.

Zeigler's not looking forward to this because he wants to prove himself against the league's fourth-leading scorer or because he's determined to extend Staten's scoring slump.

"I know Juwan pretty well," the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Zeigler said. "We used to play against each other on the AAU circuit when we were in high school and we've maintained contact through social networks and such."

Zeigler knows what others were reminded of last season, when Staten led the Big 12 in scoring and assists after playing one season at Dayton, transferring to WVU, sitting out one season and then averaging 7.6 points and shooting 37.6 percent in the 2012-13 season.

"He was great in high school," Zeigler remembered.

So was Zeigler, a consensus top-30 recruit the same year Staten was leading Virginia's Oak Hill Academy to a No. 7 national ranking in USA Today. Zeigler knew Staten to be an aggressive offensive player who would surprise opponents with his explosiveness off the dribble or off the floor.

He saw Staten do things most other point guards could not, which meant he was one of those expecting the surge Staten made as a junior.

"I wasn't surprised at all by what he did last year," Zeigler said. "I always knew he was a good player when he was given the opportunity to showcase that talent. He got that at West Virginia. They trusted him and I think he definitely made the most of it."

Zeigler came to TCU with nearly 1,150 points and 450 rebounds in his college career. He's started all 18 games for is TCU, which was off to a school-record 13-0 start before losing to WVU and has only beaten Texas Tech since then. He's second on the team in minutes (25.2), points (8.6) and assists (2.3) per game.

"What makes him unique is his size and his ability to score the ball at his size," said point guard Kyan Anderson, who leads the team with 13.2 points and 3.9 assists per game. "He finds ways to get his body into the paint and to create shots for himself, but he's also hungry on the defensive end. He can use his size to bother guys, but he can run with other guards who are smaller than him."

Staten, meanwhile, has just seven points on 2-for-16 shooting the past two games. It's his worst two-game stretch since the final four games of the 2013 season, when he totaled seven points on 3 of 10 shooting as WVU yawned toward the end of a 13-19 season with seven straight losses.

"He hasn't made a shot," WVU coach Bob Huggins said. "Physically, he's fine."

Slowed by an ankle injury before the season and then by the flu for WVU's two-game road trip against TCU and Texas Tech, Staten scored 23 points on 7-for-17 shooting in the loss to Iowa State, but started 0 for 8 in the win against Oklahoma and 0 for 6 in the loss to Texas. Staten played just 25 minutes against the Longhorns and their 2-3 zone and didn't have an assist for the first time in 66 games.

"I think Wanny didn't really take a lot of rhythm shots," WVU forward Devin Williams said after the game. "Wanny's a rhythm player. I think Wanny was really flat-footed. That's probably the first time I've ever seen that in him. Wanny was just flat-footed and wasn't in a rhythm."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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Four WVU football players cited for marijuana possession http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129703 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129703 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:17:27 -0500 By Mike Casazza Four freshman West Virginia football players were cited for marijuana possession Tuesday on campus.

Safety Dravon Henry, linebacker Xavier Preston, defensive lineman Jaleel Fields and offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste were cited at Lincoln Hall, where police entered a room and found marijuana. Each is subject to a pre-trial diversion program, and the charges can be dropped in six months if they meet the terms of the process.

"We are aware of the situation, and the matter will be handled internally," Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said in a statement. Henry started all 13 games at free safety and finished with 45 tackles and two interceptions, including one he returned 52 yards for a touchdown. He made ESPN.com's true freshman all-America team. Preston was a reserve linebacker who played in nine games on defense and special teams. Cajuste and Field both redshirted.

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Mike Casazza: New signing date will benefit recruiting http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129761 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129761 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 22:59:48 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - College football's national signing day is 13 days away, the latest edition of what's become something of a holiday for armchair recruitniks, hardcore fans of their favorite schools and critics of the recruiting efforts of the coaches on campus.

It might also be the last.

It seems more likely than not that beginning this year an early signing date in December will precede the first Wednesday in February. That date has become a made-for-TV event in with announcements reserved for television and programming devoted to evaluating a college program's performance recruiting kids with high school diplomas and associate degrees.

During last week's NCAA convention, a committee recommended a Dec. 16 date, the same as the junior college signing date. That's now in the hands of the College Commissioners Association, a collection of the 32 Division I commissioners who manage national letters of intent. They'll vote in June, and a lot of college coaches and administrators are pulling for it.

"I think it's functional, I think it's an appropriate date," said West Virginia's Ryan Dorchester, the director of player personnel who oversees recruiting. "It's what I always had in my head when I heard suggestions."

There had been a few other ideas. One was for an early signing period before the season in August and another was for a slightly earlier signing period just after Thanksgiving. Both, though, were met with resistance because coaches would be busy preparing and coaching their teams before and during the season.

The December date is one when teams aren't playing games and it falls during a contact period when coaches can meet with recruits and their parents, something that's increasingly useful because some schools are moving away from having recruits make official visits during a season. An early date before the season would probably necessitate changes to the official visit rules, which is more complicated than simply opening up a 72-hour signing window in December.

It also allows coaches to close cases seven weeks earlier than they would now, when the signings are pushed back while a list of variables can cause a recruit to change his mind and leave the school he deserted without many great options for replacing him.

"You don't have to spend all your time worrying about somebody coming in at the last possible minute and offering a kid because they missed on their guy and flipping a kid you've been working on for 12 months," Dorchester said. "That's a pretty big pain in the butt."

It happens a lot now, here and in many other places. It would happen less with an early signing day, and that's one of a few benefits for the coaches. The recently approved four-year scholarships and guarantees for the total cost of attendance are student-athlete welfare initiatives. An early signing date is good for the coaches.

Say a school plans to sign 25 players and 15 sign in the early period. Rather than spend the period between the end of the regular season and signing day working to keep all 25 in line, coaches instead worry about 10 - and truth be told, they can probably afford to look around a little more for kids who are wavering elsewhere or suddenly available.

But that's a lot less traveling for coaches. It's fewer days of seeing one prospect in the morning in Charlotte, one in the afternoon in Atlanta and one in the evening in Broward County. If the recruit in North Carolina and Florida signed in December, then the work that day goes to the player in Atlanta, but also to the future.

"I think some schools will save money, which matters, but it's not like people won't go out and recruit," Dorchester said. "But coaches are not going to want to get on planes if they don't have to. If they go on a home visit with a kid you're targeting and the kid's a senior, maybe you spend that night with him and spend the morning checking in on a bunch of juniors in the area."

With that in mind, there's a small change that ought to accompany the large one. The spring evaluation period lets coaches visit a school, check on grades, watch a track meet or a spring football practice and not much else. There can be no contact. Dorchester believes the evaluation period could be redefined.

"I think that could be changed to where you can have contact with rising juniors at that time," Dorchester said. "It could be something as simple as, 'Hey, you can talk to underclassmen just on campus.' I think that would be good and I think that would be something coaches would welcome."

Of course, an early signing period challenges schools, too, and WVU has been pretty particular in the past few years about academic certainties. If the Mountaineers are to remain purposefully picky and make sure kids they sign can enroll, they have to make the call weeks earlier now. Someone iffy who WVU declines in December could be safe in February.

But it might also help, too. Suppose a star cornerback has qualification questions. WVU can still sign him in December and steer him to specific core classes, ways to beef up the GPA and strategies to improve an SAT or ACT score during the spring so that he's eligible to enroll in the summer. That already happens now, except that a kid can take WVU's advice and improve his chances and then sign somewhere else.

That's not good for a coach's welfare, either.

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WVU women upend Kansas State, 63-51 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129771 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129771 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 21:50:47 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Junior guard Jessica Morton had a season-high 22 points to lift the West Virginia University women's basketball team to a 63-51 Big 12 victory over Kansas State (11-6, 1-5 Big 12) on Wednesday at the WVU Coliseum.

Morton, who had played only 20 total minutes in two games prior to Wednesday night, played 24 against the Wildcats and was 4-6 from 3-point range for the Mountaineers (12-6, 2-4).

Kindred Wesemann had 19 points for Kansas State, and Averee Fields (12), Bre McDonald (11) and Bria Holmes (10) combined for 33 points for WVU, which visits Kansas at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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WVU's Staten makes Olson Award watch list http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129782 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129782 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 21:22:38 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -West Virginia University men's basketball player Juwan Staten was named Wednesday to the Lute Olson Award mid-season watch list. The award, named after the former Arizona coach, is given to the nation's top Division I basketball player who has played at least two seasons. The 2015 finalists will be announced in March and the winner will be announced April 3.

Staten, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, is averaging 15.0 points and 4.0 assists per game this season.

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WVU's Holmes named to Wooden mid-season top 20 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129783 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129783 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 21:22:33 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia University women's basketball player Bria Holmes was named Wednesday to the John Wooden Award mid-season top 20 list. Holmes, the preseason Big 12 player of the year, ranks second in the conference with 21 points per game. The junior guard also is on two more watch lists, for the Wade and Naismith Awards.

The Wooden Award for the nation's best men's and women's college basketball players will be presented the weekend of April 10-12.

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Former Roane County wrestler joining WVU http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150120/DM03/150129909 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150120/DM03/150129909 Tue, 20 Jan 2015 21:00:57 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - NCAA qualifier and West Virginia native Dylan Cottrell has joined the West Virginia University wrestling team, coach Sammie Henson announced on Tuesday.

"We are excited for Dylan's arrival back home in the great state of West Virginia," said Henson, who is in his first season at the helm of the Mountaineers. "He adds depth to our program and will be a huge asset for our team."

Cottrell comes to Morgantown from Appalachian State in Boone, N.C., where he was the 2014 Southern Conference Champion at 149 pounds and 2013-14 SoCon Freshman of the Year. He posted a 26-3 mark in his redshirt freshman season and was 16-4 to start the 2014-15 season. Cottrell was ranked as high as 10th in the nation by InterMat and Flo Wrestling earlier this year.

A native of Spencer and a graduate of Roane County High School, Cottrell entered last season's NCAA Championships as the No. 12 seed at 149 pounds. He was upset by Penn State's James English in the second tiebreaker, dropping a 5-4 decision. Cottrell then lost a 6-1 decision to Bryce Busler of Bloomsburg in the consolation bracket.

Cottrell was an all-state first team honoree all four years at Roane County and was a four-time state, regional and conference champion. He won the 2012 Dutton Award as the best high school wrestler in the state of West Virginia and was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the A-AA State Tournament.

Due to NCAA rules Cottrell, a sophomore, will be ineligible for the remainder of the 2014-15 season. He will return in 2015-16 with two years of eligibility remaining.

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WVU prepares to see more zone from Big 12 opponents http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150119/DM03/150119170 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150119/DM03/150119170 Mon, 19 Jan 2015 23:06:49 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - In its last six halves of basketball, each played against a ranked Big 12 team, No. 18 West Virginia has shot 36.1, 28.1, 40, 50, 28 and 20.7 percent from the floor.

Take a guess what three halves saw the Mountaineers staring at a 2-3 zone.

"I guess now we know what everyone's going to be doing to us," forward Devin Williams said after No. 17 Texas played its 2-3 for 40 minutes of a 77-50 win Saturday. "Eventually we have to figure it out or it might be the same result."

WVU's shooting woes notwithstanding, that's probably not entirely true because it's not easy for a team to just slip into a zone it doesn't normally play and then succeed for an entire game. Only a few Big 12 teams feature a 2-3 or any zone as their main defense. Texas and Baylor do, and the Mountaineers have three games left against them, but all the other teams lean on man to man.

Then again, so does Iowa State, and the Cyclones stumped WVU in the second half by throwing out a zone they hadn't used much at all during the season. Their 2-3 did just enough to win 74-72 and hold WVU to 28.1 percent.

WVU had four assists on nine baskets in the second half and attempted 14 3-pointers. In the loss to Texas, the Mountaineers had five assists on just 13 baskets and attempted 20 3-pointers.

That was unfortunate for the Mountaineers, who after the win against Oklahoma heard their coach say WVU would have to deal with Texas' size but that Texas had to hope the Mountaineers didn't shoot the Longhorns out of the zone.

"We've got to pass the ball. We've got to run offense. We've got to execute offense," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said after the loss. "It looked to me like we had guys open. We just didn't deliver them the ball."

The Mountaineers weren't surprised by the Texas zone, and didn't seem startled when the Longhorns extended the zone and pressed for most of the length of the court. That forced WVU to take additional time off the shot clock before ever beginning to attack the zone.

Yet the Texas length, with a rolling lineup of forwards between 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-11 on the back line, gave the Mountaineers issues. Many teams don't rebound as well out of a zone as they do in man-to-man defense because players are farther from the basket and opponents have an easier time boxing out defenders when they know where they're positioned.

Texas dominates opponents on the boards because of its size and ranks No. 2 nationally in rebounding margin (plus 12.2 per game).

WVU was outrebounded by 12, and the presence of the Texas forwards mattered elsewhere. The Mountaineers turned the ball over with passes to places they wanted to get the ball to and had six shots blocked in the paint and many others altered when the ball did get inside.

WVU had eight points in the paint in the first half and tried to get to the basket early in the second half, but finished with just six points in the final 20 minutes, including Juwan Staten's first basket of the game with 1:05 remaining. The Mountaineers went from nine 3-point shots in the first half to 11 in the second half.

"You can't see it on TV, but when you're at the game, it's kind of difficult to see passing lanes because they're big," said guard Gary Browne, who had a team-high two assists and four of the team's 14 points in the paint. "But we didn't do a good job getting the ball in the high post, and I include myself in that. We didn't give ourselves chances to make plays."

The Mountaineers had a plan, but it rarely worked.

"The high post was wide open all the time, but every time we caught it, we didn't make the best decision," Browne said.

Huggins reminded players during play and during timeouts to stick to - or maybe remember - the approach they'd worked on in practice. When the game was over, Huggins didn't think his players made the necessary passes. Those passers weren't convinced the passes were available.

"I felt like sometimes I caught it in the high post and there was a lot of standing," Williams said. "The coaches were staying on me about making that pass to the guy who was supposed to be sealing off the middle, but it seemed like we got stagnant and everyone stood in one place. The ball didn't stick. I think everyone else got stuck in one spot."

The Mountaineers play host to TCU (14-3, 1-3) Saturday, and the Horned Frogs have played a 2-3 on occasion in the past.

"I believe we are going to figure the zone out," Williams said. "At the beginning of the year, we couldn't get a shot up against one and we got better. We're going to figure it out. We need to slow down, and the best thing right now is to get back and watch some film."

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WVU men ranked No. 18 in Associated Press top 25 poll http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150119/DM03/150119212 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150119/DM03/150119212 Mon, 19 Jan 2015 14:33:34 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia University men's basketball team is ranked No. 18 in the latest top 25 poll by the Associated Press. It is the ninth consecutive week the Mountaineers have been nationally ranked.

WVU (15-3 overall, 3-2 Big 12) split a pair of games against top 20 competition last week, and both games were decided by at least 20 points.

The Mountaineers defeated then-No. 18 Oklahoma, 86-65, on Jan. 13 in Morgantown, and then lost to then-No. 20 Texas, 77-50 on the road. It capped a stretch of three consecutive games against nationally ranked opponents for WVU, which was ranked No. 16 last week.

West Virginia was sandwiched in the top 25 poll by its last two opponents: Texas was voted No. 17 and Oklahoma came in at No. 19. There are six Big 12 teams in the national rankings: Iowa State (9), Kansas (11) and Baylor (21) are the others. Oklahoma State was the first team left out of the AP poll.

The nation's two remaining unbeaten teams, Kentucky and Virginia, remained in the top two spots of the poll. UK, ranked No. 1, received 63 of 65 first-place votes. The Cavaliers received the other two.

Gonzaga (18-1), Villanova (17-1) and Duke (15-2) rounded out the top five.

Dayton at No. 22, Indiana at No. 23 and Iowa at No. 25 are newcomers to the rankings.

The Mountaineers next host TCU this Saturday at 2 p.m. ESPNEWS will televise the game.

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Same story for WVU men vs. Texas, or is it? http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150118/DM03/150119225 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150118/DM03/150119225 Sun, 18 Jan 2015 22:21:15 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There are really only two schools of thought following West Virginia's 27-point loss to Texas on Saturday night.

First, this is a fourth-straight lopsided loss in the past 13 months - more of the same in this series for a WVU team that does not match up well with these Longhorns.

And not surprisingly, the first is not popular among all the 16th-ranked Mountaineers.

"How in the hell can you say that?" coach Bob Huggins said after the 77-55 defeat against No. 20 Texas. "We're 15-3. How in the hell can you say that it's like last year? It's not like last year. It's not like last year at all."

That's true, in so many ways. WVU lost last year's games by 11, 11 and 17 points. Saturday's margin was the largest in a loss since the first game of the forgettable 2012-13 season. But the reality WVU was again undone by the Texas size led forward Devin Williams to admit, "It feels like walking down the same road, man."

The Mountaineers are still by many measures not only better than last season's team but better than they were at the Frank Erwin Center, which leads to the second school: It was a pretty bad night for a pretty good team.

WVU committed a season-high 17 turnovers, was outrebounded by a dozen, shot the third-worst percentage in school history and had separate stretches of more than 10 minutes without a basket, which would seem hard to do in a 40-minute game.

"Not for us," Huggins said. "It's not that hard."

WVU started with a 5-0 lead, then missed consecutive shots and gave up an 18-2 run. It was a 10-point game in the second half and Texas ripped off a 23-4 run to build a 29-point lead after holding 21, 21, and 31-point leads in last season's wins.

"We shot 20 percent in the second half," Huggins said. "It's hard to win like that, and truth be known, this was (a 12-point game) and we miss a wide-open layup. How many times have we done that? That's the frustrating part. You work like crazy to get a layup and maybe you get on a run and that happens."

Huggins then singled out guard Tarik Phillip and explained how a series of his miscues, including that missed layup, added up to nine points in the Longhorns run. Phillip wasn't alone, though. Jon Holton and Williams fouled out and Big 12 preseason player of the year Juwan Staten didn't make a basket until a little more than a minute remained.

With Staten logging 25 minutes and struggling for a second straight game, Holton limited to just eight minutes and Williams flustered again against the Longhorns in 20 minutes to the point he picked up a silly technical foul for dunking the ball after he was called for an offensive foul, the Mountaineers really didn't have much of a chance.

The bench that scored 55 points in Tuesday's win against Oklahoma wasn't nearly as effective against Texas. Seven substitutes combined for 19 points on 4 for 26 shooting. Three of the baskets and nine points came on Jevon Carter 3-pointers, but he shot 3 for 10 in 27 minutes.

"We have to be a team," Huggins said. "We're not good enough for one guy to take the ball and say, 'Hey, go win the game for us.' We don't have that."

It didn't help that the individual and collective issues came against a Texas team that not only has some sort of a grasp of the Mountaineers, but also clicked Saturday in a way it hasn't in a long time.

Texas won 24 games last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, returned all the most important players and added a 6-foot-11 freshman considered to be one of the best recruits in the country.

That freshman, Myles Turner, had 16 points and seven rebounds and was 9 for 9 at the free-throw line against WVU. Cam Ridley had one shot in the team's last game, a loss to Oklahoma State. He took 10 against WVU, made all but two of them and had a season-high 19 points. Jonathan Holmes shot just 2 for 6, but he was 11 for 12 at the free-throw line and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Texas was ranked No. 10 in the preseason poll and climbed as high as No. 6 before a loss to top-ranked and unbeaten Kentucky. The Longhorns (13-4, 2-2 Big 12) had lost back-to-back games and three of five overall, but had a week off before beating WVU and, in some ways, beating WVU at its own game. Texas was the better rebounding team, blocked seven shots and outscored the Mountaineers 21-8 in points off turnovers and 30-14 in the paint.

"They just outworked us," said guard Gary Browne, a bright spot with 14 points and three steals in 23 minutes. "That's it, to honest with you. That's the only thing they did, and you could see it in the rebounding. It's something we've got to do. We knew they were big. We talked about it all week. We just didn't get it done inside. That's the only word: Outworked."

WVU (15-3, 3-2) has lost two of three and is 1-2 against the league's ranked teams, of which there are six others. The only Big 12 wins are on the road against Texas Tech and TCU, which would both be winless in league play if not for TCU's 62-42 win against Texas Tech on Saturday. WVU plays host to TCU Saturday before traveling to Kansas State (11-7, 4-1), which leads the Big 12 with a four-game winning streak.

"Is it going to be harder? Yeah," Huggins said. "We're not playing the people we played the first half. There are seven teams ranked in this league. That's 12 games you are playing against ranked teams. Twelve. So it's harder, but it's harder because we are playing better people."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU gets dominated by Texas in hoops again http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150117/DM03/150119297 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150117/DM03/150119297 Sat, 17 Jan 2015 23:08:48 -0500 By Mike Casazza AUSTIN, Texas - As poorly as West Virginia fared in three losses to Texas last season, the Mountaineers never got beat like they did Saturday night.

The 20th-ranked Longhorns scored 23 of the game's final 29 points and won the fourth straight in the series by double digits with a 77-50 win against No. 16 WVU.

"It's like walking down the same road, man," WVU forward Devin Williams said. "It does feel the same."

Texas, which beat WVU by 11, 11 and 17 points last season and had leads of 21, 21 and 31 points in those victories, outrebounded WVU 44-32, had a 16-7 scoring edge in second-chance points and a 21-8 scoring edge in points off turnovers.

The Mountaineers matched a season high with 17 turnovers, shot just 24.1 percent - the third-lowest number in school history - and were outscored by 14 points in the first half and 13 in the second half for their worst loss since an 84-50 setback against Gonzaga to start the 2012-13 season.

"They outworked us," WVU guard Gary Browne said. "I can't sit here and tell you we lost the game because of details. They just outworked us. We're only going to win games when we outwork people. We can't let people outwork us"

Browne led WVU (15-3, 3-2 Big 12) with 14 points and three steals. No one else scored in double figures. Williams, who totaled six points and six rebounds in the three losses last season, finished with seven points and four rebounds, but committed five turnovers and five fouls. Jevon Carter made three 3-pointers in the second half and had nine points.

Juwan Staten finished 1 for 7 and had three points. He was 1 for 9 and had four points in Tuesday's win against No. 18 Oklahoma.

WVU was 13 for 54 (24.1 percent) in the game and missed 23 of 29 shots and 9 of 21 free-throw attempts in the second half.

"You can't single one person out," Williams said. "We got a collective ass-whipping."

Texas had a 40-25 lead in the second half, which was WVU's largest deficit of the season and just the fourth game this season the Mountaineers trailed by double digits. They won the first three games, but never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Cameron Ridley had made 9 of 10 shots for 19 points for the Longhorns (13-4, 2-2), who had lost two in a row. He added six rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals. Jonathan Holmes had 16 points and 11 rebounds and made 11 of 12 free-throw attempts. Myles Turner had 16 points and seven rebounds and was 9 for 9 at the foul line.

Texas was 22 for 24 at the line in the second half and 31 for 37 in the game. WVU was called for 30 fouls and had three players foul out of the game.

"I think anybody who has watched both teams knew we have play a certain way and they have play certain way," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "It comes down to a degree of whoever has the greatest will, and they played the game the way they wanted to play it and we certainly didn't play it the way we wanted to play it."

WVU had opportunities early in the second half, but missed 3 of 6 free throws, which was especially troublesome because the team missed its first four shots of the half, including an easy layup by Tarik Phillip and a layup by Jonathan Holton that looked to be an uncontested score but was instead blocked at the rim.

Browne's layup made it 46-34 and he stole the inbounds pass and was fouled, which put the Mountaineers in the bonus with 14:21 remaining. He missed the front end of the 1 and 1, though, and then WVU fouled Turner. Turner made the first free throw and missed the second, but WVU was guilty of a lane violation. Turner made good on the second chance.

Carter, who was scoreless in the first half after scoring 18 points against Oklahoma, made a pair of 3-pointers, but each was countered by a 3-point play on the other end. Carter's third 3, though, was followed by a steal, and Elijah Macon was fouled at the basket. He, too, went 1 for 2 at the foul line with a chance to get the score to single digits. Jevan Felix's jumper put the Longhorns up 56-44. That started a part of a lengthy 23-4 run that featured 16 straight missed shots by WVU and one sequence with back-to-back dunks by Ridley - the eighth and ninth of the game for the Longhorns.

The first made the score 68-47 and marked the fourth straight game they've led the Mountaineers by at least 21 points. Staten's first basket with 1:05 remaining snapped a stretch of 11:26 without a basket

"Embarrassing," Browne said. "It was an ESPN game. We talked all week about it. I include myself with my teammates. We got outworked."

The first half went about as badly as the Mountaineers could have feared it might. They committed seven fouls in the first 6:13, including two for moving screens. The eighth foul came just a second later as Holton and Holmes were called for a double technical. It was Holton's second foul and he sat the remaining 13:46 of the half after scoring five points in the game's first 29 seconds. Holton ended up fouling out after playing only eight minutes.

WVU missed eight straight shots after that as Texas finished an 18-2 run with 12 unanswered points. The Mountaineers would later miss five in a row. Texas never missed more than three in a row and often had answers for that with 10 offensive rebounds and 12 second-chance points. At the half, WVU was 7 for 25. Texas had seven baskets in the paint, four of them dunks.

"It's not like we weren't ready," Huggins said. "It's not like we were flat. We weren't flat. You could argue we weren't very smart. I'd argue in that direction."

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Schafer named vice president of student life at WVU http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150117/ARTICLE/150119310 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150117/ARTICLE/150119310 Sat, 17 Jan 2015 18:05:59 -0500

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - William D. Schafer has been named vice president of student life at West Virginia University.

Schafer has been vice president for student affairs at Georgia Tech since 2004.

Schafer's hiring, which was announced Friday, is effective March 1. He succeeds Ken Gray, who retired as vice president of WVU student affairs last year.

Schafer has several degrees from the University of Colorado Boulder. His parents graduated from Shinnston High School.

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Oliver Luck: 4 is right number for playoff http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150117/DM03/150119323 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150117/DM03/150119323 Sat, 17 Jan 2015 00:50:29 -0500

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

OXON HILL, Md. - Former West Virginia athletic director and selection committee member Oliver Luck says the College Football Playoff should stick with the four-team model because "it should be hard to get into the playoff."

Luck has started a new job with the NCAA. He had been AD at his alma mater for five years and served as a member of the 13-member committee that set the first College Football Playoff field.

"I was asked often by folks did you think the committee got it right and my response was that the American public sure liked it with the TV ratings and the interest level that existed," he said Friday.

The committee had five current athletic directors, representing each of the Big Five conferences.

"I thought by in large that processes that the committee used were pretty good, knowing that we were going through it for the first time," Luck said. "People on the committee are all top-notch, first-class folks. I think it set a very good mark for the first year."

The Big 12 will need to replace Luck next season. He gave no recommendations.

"I'll leave that to Commissioner (Bob) Bowlsby," Luck said.

He also declined to suggest any changes that could be made to the process of ranking teams weekly, starting in late October.

He did say expansion of the playoff to include more than four teams is not necessary.

"I think four is the right number," he said. "I think it should be hard to get into the playoff. It really should."

He says there were no hard feelings from his conference colleagues about TCU and Baylor being left out of the playoff in favor of Ohio State, which won the national title as the fourth and final seed.

Big 12 athletic directors met in New York the day after the selections were announced and Luck was still the West Virginia AD at the time. He said there were no hard feelings from TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte or Baylor's Ian McCaw.

"The atmosphere was fine," he said. "Chris is a first-clas guy. Ian's a first-class guy. Even athletic directors can do the simple math. Five conferences, five power conferences and only four slots.

The Big 12 is the only Big Five conference without a conference championship game and it helped Ohio State move past TCU and Baylor in the rankings by playing an extra game against a tough opponent while the Big 12 teams were simply finishing their regular season the Saturday before selections were made.

"As Commissioner Bowlsby said, the Big 12, with a bounce of the ball here or there, the Big 12 easily could have had two teams out of the four and Bob would look like a genius," Luck said.

Luck said he ran into TCU coach Gary Patterson at the championship game in Dallas and the coach congratulated Luck on the committee's work.

Unlike Patterson, Baylor coach Art Briles was critical of the committee after the Bears were snubbed.

"Didn't see Art," Luck said, laughing.

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Chuck McGill: Gee says WVU-Marshall football series 'makes sense' http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150115/DM03/150119426 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150115/DM03/150119426 Thu, 15 Jan 2015 23:25:06 -0500 By Chuck McGill CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia University president E. Gordon Gee turns 71 on Feb. 2, which is otherwise known as Groundhog Day.

Whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not, perhaps the presence of Gee in Morgantown portends a sunnier future for the in-state football series between WVU and Marshall. Discussions between officials from the two schools have been tabled since before the final Coal Bowl game was played Sept. 1, 2012, but count Gee in the camp as one who wouldn't mind the Mountain State's only two Division I teams facing off again.

Gee, who this week celebrated the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship win by his former school, Ohio State, and the coach he hired, Urban Meyer, recalled the Buckeyes' many intra-state football games when he was last OSU's president from 2007-13.

"I think that would be fine," Gee said of a return of the WVU-Marshall football series. "When I was at Ohio State we had in-state rivalries, and I think that is very healthy."

Indeed, Ohio State managed a 10-0 record against Ohio-based universities during Gee's six most recent football seasons at the school. The Buckeyes defeated Akron (twice), Youngstown State (twice), Toledo (twice), Ohio (twice) Kent State (once) and Miami (once) before Gee departed the school on June 30, 2013.

Gee has spent more than four decades as a leader in academics, but he understands the value of athletics.

"I always point out to everyone that at my university, West Virginia University, I have yet to get 70,000 people to come and watch a chemistry lecture," Gee said, "but they can come and watch a football game. And if you use football and athletics as a storyboard for the university and about our academic excellence, that and the spirit of that is very, very important."

ADs sign football contracts years in advance. In fact, Marshall played at Ohio State during Gee's time at Ohio State, a 45-7 Buckeyes win in coach Doc Holliday's first season at Marshall in 2010. The contract for that non-conference game was finalized on Aug. 8, 2006, the summer before Gee returned to Ohio State as president.

Gee also hired a new athletic director, Shane Lyons, this month. Lyons, whom Gee said has "tremendous credentials and ability," isn't even on the WVU campus yet, so chatter about future football schedules isn't a pressing matter.

But if the 49-year-old Lyons, a Parkersburg native, wants to sit down with fellow W.Va. native Mike Hamrick, the athletic director at Marshall, and discuss the renewal of the series sometime, Gee would be on board.

That is a stark contrast to comments made by former WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, who last month announced his resignation to accept a newly created position at the NCAA. In 2012, Luck called the Coal Bowl games against Marshall "a nice series," but said the WVU fan base "kind of shrugs their shoulders."

Luck, however, was presented with new challenges in crafting future schedules at his alma mater. The Mountaineers' move to the Big 12 allowed for only three non-conference opponents per season, rather than five, and that has limited options in negotiating new deals.

West Virginia's schedule is full for 2015 (homes games against Georgia Southern, Liberty and Maryland) and 2016 (home games against Missouri and Youngstown State, and a neutral-site game versus BYU in Landover, Md.).

WVU, which is 12-0 all-time against the Herd, has one spot available starting in 2017, and that continues through 2021. There are multiple openings every year from 2022 and on.

Marshall has greater schedule flexibility in Conference USA with four non-conference slots per season. The Herd is full for 2015, but has one opening in 2016 and '17, two in 2018 and three in 2019. Hamrick has negotiated future home-and-home contracts with Power 5 programs like North Carolina State and Pittsburgh, and Purdue visits Huntington next season to complete a home-and-home deal.

The possibility of a reunion for the state's two major football programs is all speculative, of course. Lyons and Hamrick do not have a previous relationship, but Marshall officials have a relationship with Gee and that could be the gateway.

The key is receptivity and willingness for open dialogue.

Gee appears game, when the time is appropriate.

"I think the people of the state would like to see it and I think that it makes sense," he said. "Marshall has a great coach. I know Doc Holliday well and I think the world of him. They have a great athletic program and we do play in basketball, but that is the reason I hired an athletic director. They have to figure these types of things out.

"But, certainly, I have no problem with it whatsoever."

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No. 20 Texas' size will challenge WVU frontcourt http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150115/DM03/150119434 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150115/DM03/150119434 Thu, 15 Jan 2015 22:03:52 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN,W.Va - Elijah Macon is no different from the rest of the West Virginia players who were around for last season's three games against Texas.

"It ate me alive watching those three losses," Macon said.

Macon was ineligible to practice and play last season, and the 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman is among the differences this season as No. 16 WVU readies for retribution against the 20th-ranked Longhorns. Texas won last season's games by 11, 17 and 17 points, had leads of 21, 21 and 30 points and shot better than 50 percent in five of six halves.

The Mountaineers (15-2, 3-1 Big 12) have five frontcourt players, and Macon, Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins back up Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton. Macon and Holton are in their first season with the team. That group is coming off one of its best collective games of the season, and certainly the best performance in quite some time, in the 86-65 rout of No. 18 Oklahoma.

Each will be needed in Saturday's 6:15 p.m. ESPN game against the Longhorns (12-4, 1-2) at the Frank Erwin Center. Texas is, quite simply, the biggest team in the Big 12 and that size was the biggest reason WVU had its trio of trouble last season. The Longhorns have gotten bigger since then.

They start 6-9, 285-pound Cameron Ridley, 6-8, 240-pound Jonathan Holmes and 6-9 240-pound Connor Lammert, and they bring 6-10, 260-pound Prince Ibeh and 6-11, 240-pound Myles Turner, one of the nation's top recruits, off the bench. Turner is second on the team in scoring (11.6) and first in rebounding (6.8).

The lineups have changed in recent games as Texas has welcomed leading scorer Isaiah Taylor back from a wrist injury that cost him 10 games, but the Longhorns are tall, long and stout and they act like it. Texas leads the league in rebounding (42.9 per game), rebounding margin (plus-12.2) and blocked shots (7.69) and is second in scoring defense (57.2) and field-goal percentage defense (35).

Each is in the top five nationally, except scoring defense, which is No. 18. Texas plays a 2-3 zone, which explains the defensive numbers, but also highlights the rebounding averages since it's harder to rebound out of a zone.

WVU has seen size in conference play against TCU, Iowa State and Oklahoma, but coach Bob Huggins said the Longhorns are "an entirely different problem." The Cyclones and Sooners, for example, used forwards to handle WVU's press and asked them to move the ball to operate the offense. Texas does not.

"I don't see their bigs doing that," Huggins said. "Now, they may come down and set a screen and they may come down and get the inbound, but then they're going to look to pass to somebody. They're not going to try to advance it."

They'll still be there and WVU will still have to deal with them, but Huggins knows what to tell his team.

"Probably the same thing the people at Texas are saying: 'We hope they don't shoot us out of that 2-3 zone. We're going to have to keep up with those guys, as quick and as long and as fast as they are,'" Huggins said. "We have to take what we do well and try to do it better than what they do well."

What the Mountaineers do well is something the Longhorns will have to deal with, too. Their press has turned over and worn down opponents all season long. WVU's defense turned into offense again and again against Iowa State and put the Cyclones in foul trouble. The Mountaineers did more of the same against Oklahoma and the press was successful disrupting Oklahoma's forwards.

WVU will again try to keep the ball away from the Texas guards and force the forwards to be handle and pass the ball.

"Speed negates height," point guard Juwan Staten said. "Height doesn't really mean anything when you have to dribble the ball against speed and pressure. Height is really only effective in half court."

That was true throughout last season's contests. Texas outscoured WVU 102-62 in the paint and was able to get dunks and layups among a long list of easy scores. Yet WVU's offense is a factor, too, that can go at Texas' strength. The pace on offense generates pace on defense. WVU believes its plan and personnel can counter for the Longhorns.

"A lot of people now are using their bigs to try to break pressure and they've got them bringing the ball up the floor and trying to get it to their guards and get into whatever they want to get into," Huggins said.

"Then when the shot's taken, Jon Holton runs like crazy - and he does run now - and his guy's got to sprint like crazy to catch him on the other end so he doesn't get a layup, and Wanny does a great job pushing, so if Jon's open, he's going to get it to him. But (opponents are) constantly running, which they don't do every game. We do. Other people don't."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU women remain winless in Big 12 play http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150114/DM03/150119534 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150114/DM03/150119534 Wed, 14 Jan 2015 22:05:15 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Amber Battle hit half of her 14 field goal attempts and had 20 points to help Texas Tech earn a 55-45 Big 12 victory over West Virginia University (10-6, 0-4 Big 12) at the WVU Coliseum on Wednesday night.

Bria Holmes had 16 points and Averee Fields 14 for the Mountaineers, who visit Oklahoma State in a Big 12 meeting at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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WVU's Staten named To Wooden midseason list http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150114/DM03/150119583 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150114/DM03/150119583 Wed, 14 Jan 2015 18:00:09 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University senior guard Juwan Staten has been named to the John R. Wooden Midseason Top 25 list.

Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts, the list is comprised of 25 student-athletes who are the frontrunners for the prestigious individual honor based on their performances during the first half of the 2014-15 season. The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2015 John R. Wooden Award Presented by Wendy's.

Staten is averaging 15.8 points and 4.0 assists on the season, and has also 22 steals. The Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year has helped No. 16 WVU to a 15-2 record, including a 3-1 mark in the Big 12.

The midseason list also consists of junior Justin Anderson of Virginia, junior Ron Baker of Wichita State, senior Ryan Boatwright of Connecticut, junior Willie Cauley-Stein of Kentucky, junior Yogi Ferrell of Indiana, senior Jerian Grant of Notre Dame, junior Montrezl Harrell of Louisville, senior D'Angelo Harrison of St. John's, senior Tyler Haws of BYU and junior Buddy Hield of Oklahoma.

Rounding out the list are freshman Stanley Johnson of Arizona, freshman Tyus Jones of Duke, senior Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin, sophomore Jordan Mickey of LSU, junior Georges Niang of Iowa State, freshman Jahlil Okafor of Duke, senior Kevin Pangos of Gonzaga, sophomore Bobby Portis of Arkansas, senior Chasson Randle of Stanford, sophomore Terry Rozier of Louisville, freshman D'Angelo Russell of Ohio State, freshman Melo Trimble of Maryland, junior Kyle Wiltjer of Gonzaga and senior Delon Wright of Utah.

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WVU men wallop Oklahoma http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150114/DM03/150119645 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150114/DM03/150119645 Wed, 14 Jan 2015 06:34:02 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - It's one thing to beat an undefeated TCU team with the Big 12 preseason player of the year watching in a sweat suit from behind the bench, as the Mountaineers did on the road 11 days ago against a Horned Frogs squad that still hasn't won in Big 12 play.

It's something very different to do what No. 16 West Virginia did Tuesday night.

Point guard Juwan Staten missed his first seven shots and didn't score until 6:37 remained. By then nine other players had scored, a crowd of 9,196 at the Coliseum was taunting the opposition and the Mountaineers had built a 20-point lead on their way to a 86-65 rout of No. 18 Oklahoma.

Staten finished with four points and didn't make a basket until 1:29 remained. He added eight assists with five coming in the second half, when the Mountaineers shot 50 percent from the floor and made 5 of 8 3-point shots.

"It's definitely a great feeling to know when I'm not playing my best I have my teammates to pick me up and take the pressure off of me knowing if the shots aren't going in every time then we aren't going to lose the game," said Staten, who was fourth in the Big 12 at 16.5 points per game.

All 11 of the Mountaineers who played in the win had checked in during the first half of the first half, and every one of them did something to fill the box score with a basket, a steal, an assist or a rebound with 9:13 left before halftime.

"It was all clicking in some way, shape or form," Devin Williams said. "Everyone was out there getting deflections, steals, making good passes, getting in the lane, rebounding. Something was happening for somebody. It was scary."

The Sooners couldn't handle WVU's defense early. When the Mountaineers (15-2, 3-1 Big 12) led 23-13 in the first half, they had 26 shots and 10 points off Oklahoma turnovers. The Sooners had six baskets to eight turnovers and half as many shots as WVU.

Oklahoma finished with a season-high 22 turnovers and WVU, which had 16 steals, countered with 27 points.

"It wasn't anything I wasn't expecting," forward Elijah Macon said. "Our guards knew what to do with our press, to get up and pressure the ball. Eventually they were going to end up turning the ball over. We had a plan for what we needed to do to win the game and we took care of it."

Oklahoma (11-5, 2-2) entered the game with 187 assists and 181 turnovers. Only two of the nine regulars had more assists than turnovers. Point guard Jordan Woodward, who was second in the Big 12 with 4.6 assists per game, had three assists. Guard Isaiah Cousins, who had 33 turnovers coming in, added five to his total.

"We watched film on them and saw they struggled a little bit against pressure," Staten said. "Our game plan was to deny the ball-handler Woodward and make Cousins handle the ball and make their bigs handle the ball a lot.

"We felt Woodward was their best decision-maker and if we could put their ball in their hands, we could take advantage of when they had the ball. Everyone did a good job engaging in the press and anticipating things."

Some of that was to be expected because WVU's press has bothered many of the 16 teams the Mountaineers had faced and no one in the country was averaging more steals per game. It was the unexpected that helped WVU avoid a two-game losing streak at home after opening Big 12 play with back-to-back road wins.

Nathan Adrian, who had missed his previous 15 3-point shots and hadn't made one since the Dec. 4 loss to LSU, finally connected during a lively first half that saw him score nine points, which matched a season high. Tarik Phillip followed Adrian off the bench and had eight points, two assists and two steals in the first half.

The bench, which scored 39 total points the previous two games, had 32 in the first half. So did Oklahoma. At one point in the second half, WVU's reserves had 40 points on their way to a season-high 55. So did Oklahoma.

"The biggest thing for us is our depth and our bench," said Adrian, who finished with 11 points. "When we have a couple starters who aren't getting it going, we can bring guys in and we don't lose anything - generally."

Williams scored 14 points for the fourth straight game and had his second straight double-double - and fifth this season - by adding 11 rebounds. Jevon Carter led all the Mountaineers and keyed the reserves with 18 points off the bench. He made a career-high four 3-pointers after going 5 for 18 the previous six games and added seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and a blocked shots in 26 turnover-free minutes.

WVU had 20 assists from nine players on 30 baskets.

Buddy Hield scored 24 points for the Sooners, who lost their second straight game after winning 70-49 at Texas, where the Mountaineers play Saturday after going 0-3 against the Longhorns last season. Cousins had 14 points and Ryan Spangler added 10.

WVU was ahead 29-17 before the Sooners rallied with five straight made shots. They were down three points with TaShawn Taylor at the free-throw line, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2:21 remaining. Phillip, Carter, Williams and Jaysean Paige and then scored the final 10 points of the half for a 45-32 lead.

The Sooners scored the first six points of the second half, but WVU sped away with a 13-2 run and five scores from four players, including a 3-pointer from Jonathan Holton, who had missed his last eight attempts and hadn't made one in five games.

The capper came from Macon, who missed the win at Texas Tech with bruised ribs and, in the estimation of head coach Bob Huggins, shouldn't have played in Saturday's loss to Iowa State. Macon scored second-chance baskets on back-to-back possessions and the second - a three-point play - put the Mountaineers up 60-40 with 12:52 to go.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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Spangler, Sooners visit WVU in top 25 battle http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150112/DM03/150119763 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150112/DM03/150119763 Mon, 12 Jan 2015 23:30:52 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - This is not the sort of confession expected from someone who stands in the middle of one of college basketball's best offenses.

"I never really cared about points," Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler said.

Yet that's why makes Spangler so important to the 18th-ranked Sooners and everything they do. It's what No. 16 West Virginia will deal with in Tuesday's 7 p.m. game at the Coliseum (ESPNEWS).

"I'll always get my points off easy stuff," Spangler said. "If I can have 15 boards and make all my free throws, maybe some assists but definitely no turnovers, I don't have to worry about points as much as other people. I know if I rebound and I run the court, I'll get 10 points real easy."

The Sooners (11-4, 2-1 Big 12) push the pace on offense. They run the floor and take a lot of shots. Spangler isn't a quick guard or a prolific scorer, but the 6-foot-9, 235-pound is what makes the team go.

"He's such a competitor," said first-team preseason all-Big 12 guard Buddy Hield, who leads the team with 16.8 points per game. "He rebounds. He's a monster on the offensive boards. He scores or kicks it out for a 3. We just feed off his energy and everything he does."

Spangler is fourth on the team in scoring (9.3 points per game) but leads the way in rebounding (8.1 rebounds per game) and is second in shooting percentage (56.1). He and sophomore point guard Jordan Woodward are fourth on the team in shots (98) and are 33 attempts behind the third-highest total.

He has started every game and ranks second on the team in minutes played for an offense that's behind the Mountaineers (14-2, 2-1) and Iowa State in scoring. The Sooners have evolved into an effective scoring machine these past three seasons with a core of players who have been together for two or three seasons and surged with coach Lon Kruger's open and up-tempo offensive style.

"They're really good. They're very experienced. They're very well-coached," WVU coach Bob Huggins said. "They take really good shots and they really defend. I think they're a very, very good team and Lon does a great job finding and creating mismatches."

Spangler, though, was something of a surprise addition who first left the state after winning the Gatorade state player of the year award in 2011. Spangler started his college career at Gonzaga and then returned to his home state and sat out the 2012-13 season with the Sooners.

"I didn't even pay attention to the offense," he said. "I just knew they had a good class coming in and I knew Coach Kruger was going to turn everything around based on where he's been in the past."

Kruger, who was a head coach for three years in the NBA and took four other schools to multiple NCAA tournaments, including the 1994 season at Florida, was 15-16 in the 2011-12 season, his first at Oklahoma. He then recruited Hield and guard Isaiah Cousins, who's second on the team with 12.7 points per game.

The Sooners were 20-12 and won a game in the NCAA tournament in 2013, but Spangler added a missing piece a year later. Surrounded by scorers and facilitators like Cousins, Hield and Woodward, Spangler averaged 9.6 points per game, led the Big 12 with 9.3 rebounds per game and was second in the conference with 10 double-doubles. Oklahoma was 23-10 and again advanced to the second round of the tournament.

"I've always liked running throughout by career," he said. "It's something I've always done pretty well. This team can shoot the lights out. All the guards are on top of that, but we need somebody to do the dirty work, which is why they trust me so much. I know they'll knock down shots for me. If not, I'll get the rebound or dive on the ball for them."

The story is mostly the same this season, though with one twist. Spangler is second in the league in rebounding and he leads the Big 12 in defensive rebounding (6.13 per game), but he's also 8 for 19 from 3-point range. He was 3 for 11 last year and never attempted a 3-pointer at Gonzaga.

"I don't think last year I was as confident as I should have been, but I worked a lot on my shooting and I'm a lot more confident in it now, which is pretty easy on this team," he said. "They'll feed me way more than last year."

The Sooners can afford to move Spangler around and find ways to create new mismatches and still trust he'll remain focused on his main responsibilities because of another addition. Forward TaShawn Thomas, a transfer from Houston who is the reigning Big 12 newcomer of the week, averages 11.9 points and 6.1 rebounds and shoots a team-high 57.3 percent from the floor while never straying too far from the paint.

The 6-8, 245-pound Thomas started all 96 of his games with the Cougars and averaged 14.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and shot 57.1 percent from the floor.

"He a really complete player," Kruger said. "He's got good awareness defensively. He rebounds well and blocks shots on that end of the floor and he can score a lot of different ways in terms of a mid-range jumper, off the boards and in the low post. He brings a lot of maturity and leadership ability and as a big impact on the team."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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Florida State guard to join WVU women's basketball team http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150112/DM03/150119789 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150112/DM03/150119789 Mon, 12 Jan 2015 20:12:14 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University women's basketball coach Mike Carey announced the addition of Chania Ray on Monday. Ray, a transfer from Florida State, must sit out due to NCAA transfer rules.

Ray, a native of Alexandria, Va., spent the fall of 2014 with the Seminoles averaging 5.7 minutes in six games played. The freshman recorded a pair of assists and a steal in her collegiate debut against UAB on Nov. 14. Against Furman, she grabbed a career-best two rebounds in the Seminoles' win over the Paladins.

"Chania is a great addition for us," Carey said. "She comes from a fantastic high school and AAU program. Her athleticism and basketball IQ will help our program move forward. We're excited to have Chania as part of our Mountaineer family."

The 5-foot-8 guard was regarded as one of the most talented players from the Northern Virginia area. ESPN HoopGurlz rated her as the 25th-best player in her position for the 2014 class. Ray is described as an athletic combo guard, who can score and distribute with ease.

During her four years at Riverdale Baptist High School, she guided the Crusaders to a 57-9 overall record. Ray averaged 17.4 points during her senior season and shot 72.3 percent from the free throw line.

Ray helped defeat Fremont (Plain City, Utah), 60-35, in the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Championship game in Madison Square Garden after pouring in a game-high 22 points, five rebounds and four assists. Her coast-to-coast layup with just seconds remaining lifted Riverdale Baptist over Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.), 59-58, in the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Semifinals. She would later be tabbed the Dick's Sporting Goods National MVP.

Ray guided Riverdale Baptist to a No. 7 final ranking in the USA TODAY Sports Super 25 poll and a No. 15 ranking in the ESPNw Top 25 Power Rankings.

She was tabbed a 2013-14 Washington Post All-MET First Team performer. Additionally, Ray racked up numerous other honors including ESBC All-American, NACA All-American, All-Arlington Sun Gazette First Team and All-NSP First Team. Ray and the Crusaders finished 28-3 in her senior season.

As a junior, Ray averaged 13.7 points and drilled 49 three-pointers en route to being a Washington Post All-MET Honorable Mention selection. Ray played AAU basketball for the Washington DC based Maryland Lady Terps.

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