Men's Hoops Back in Action at West Virginia Tuesday

by Ken Landis
UCF Game Notes West Virginia Game Notes Big 12 Conference Notes

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – After earning a 72-59 victory in the first meeting this season, the UCF men’s basketball team takes a trip north to visit West Virginia for a 7 p.m. tip on Tuesday on ESPNU.

The Knights win against the Mountaineers back on Jan. 23 was one of two Big 12 Conference games that have seen the Black and Gold lead wire-to-wire, the other being the Feb. 3 win over then-No. 23/24 Oklahoma. Three Knights scored double-digit points in the first meeting against the Mountaineers with Jaylin Sellers leading the way at 18 points. Ibrahima Diallo tallied 14 points and 12 rebounds, earning a double-double, one of three this season and what was his second in a 10-day span. His great night was topped off with four blocks, just one shy of a season high. Antwann Jones also scored double-digit points against West Virginia earlier this year, dropping 13 on five-of-seven shooting.

UCF only shot 37.3% from the field in its earlier tilt with the Mountaineers, but strong free-throw shooting made the difference. The Knights sunk 21-of-25 free throw attempts for an 84% clip, compared to just six makes on 10 attempts for the Mountaineers.

The Knights enter Tuesday’s contest looking to snap a three-game losing skid. UCF has led for just 29 seconds over the past three games but have been right in each contest. The Black and Gold trailed by as many as 14 against Cincinnati but were able to tie the game with under two minutes to go.

UCF still ranks highly in plenty of defensive metrics, checking in at 13th in the nation in blocks per game, 23rd in steals per game, and 34th in turnovers forced per game. The Knights had seven rejections in the game against West Viriginia earlier this season, the second-highest mark in Big 12 play thus far, behind only the nine blocks posted against Oklahoma. The Knights have earned 10 or more times on three occasions in their Big 12 slate, snatching a dozen against Oklahoma and 10 against West Virginia and at No. 19/17 BYU. Additionally, the Black and Gold have turned over their opponents 10 or more times in all but two Big 12 games thus far.

Despite an 8-17 record and a 299th nationally ranked scoring offense, West Virginia has some guys who can fill up the basket. RaeQuan Battle averages 16.2 points per game but was held to five points and fouled out early the last time these two squads met. Joining Battle in averaging double-digit points is Jesse Edwards at 14.8 points per game, Quinn Slazinski with 12.9 and Kerr Kriisa at 10.9. Edwards nearly averages a double-double, averaging 8.1 rebounds per contest.

West Virginia’s three Big 12 wins are over No. 3 Kansas, No. 25 Texas and most recently Cincinnati, back on Jan. 31. The Mountaineers enter Tuesday on a four-game losing streak, its longest of the season.