Mountaineers, Governors Meet For First Time On Hardwood
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia faces Austin Peay Thursday night in the first meeting ever between the two schools.
Fly Williams, the Governors’ iconic All-American guard of the mid-70s, will not be on the court at the WVU Coliseum Thursday, but Terry Taylor will be. The 6-foot-5 junior was the Ohio Valley Conference freshman of the year in 2018 and a first-team all-OVC selection last year, averaging 20.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Through the first eight games of the 2019-20 season, he’s improved his numbers even more. He is ninth nationally in scoring (22.5 points per game) and is also second in the OVC in rebounding (9.1 per game).
“I wouldn’t compare him to Fly, but he’s a good player, a very good player,” chuckled WVU head coach Bob Huggins when asked about the two Governor greats of different generations.
A native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, Taylor faced WVU sophomore guard Sean McNeil, who is from Union, Kentucky, in the high school ranks, and then the two paired up in some all-star events.
“I played with and against Terry,” noted McNeil, who came to West Virginia this summer after a year at Sinclair (Ohio) Community College. “He’s a great player. They kind of ride him, get the ball to him and let him create. They have some other players that go with him well, but the main thing they like to do is get the ball to Terry and let him create for the rest of the team.”
Austin Peay comes to Morgantown with a 4-4 record. It defeated Oakland City (110-67), Southeastern Louisiana (81-60), South Carolina State (92-66) and North Florida (90-83), but lost to Western Kentucky (97-75), Tulsa (72-65), Vanderbilt (90-72) and Arkansas (69-61).
Meanwhile the Mountaineers will bring a 7-1 record into Thursday’s contest, though they did lose for the first time this year on Saturday, falling to St. John’s (70-68) at Madison Square Garden.
“They were hurt, I think,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins of his players’ reaction after the defeat. “They’ve reacted well. They’ve been really good in practice. They want to be good. They want to represent this University in the form and fashion that it ought to be represented.”
West Virginia mistake-prone in its loss to St. John’s, shooting just 42 percent from the foul line and also turning the ball over 22 times in the face of the Red Storm press.
“We’ve been in some hard games, and they’ve fought through things before,” noted Huggins. “But you just can’t go five-for-12 from the foul line, with a lot of those being the front end of one-and-ones. We also missed 10 or 12 point-blank one-footers. You miss shots some times, but I don’t know about missing that many of those.”
Typically it has been perimeter shooting that has been WVU’s biggest offensive issue this season, not the interior. West Virginia was actually a little bit better against St. John’s from behind the 3-point arc (9-24, 37.5 percent) than it had been through its first seven games (34-110, 30.9 percent).
|WVU (7-1) vs. Austin Peay (4-4)||Date: Thu Dec 12||Time: 7:00 PM ET|
|Venue: WVU Coliseum||Loc: Morgantown, WV||Series:1st Meeting|
|Ranking: WVU-44 AP-179||TV: Nexstar||Last: N/A|
|Twitter: @BlueGoldNews||Facebook: BlueGoldNews||Web: BlueGoldNews.com|
“We haven’t made shots all year,” stated Huggins. “We made a conscious effort to go out and recruit guys who made shots where they were. I think they will make shots for us eventually, but they haven’t made shots yet. We’ve won games because we rebounded the ball really well (+7.6).”
One of those who has struggled from the outside so far this year is sophomore point guard Jordan McCabe, who has made just one of his 13 three-point attempts while averaging 3.3 points per game. The Kaukauna, Wisconsin product had been dealing with an ankle sprain, but he seems better now.
“He does whatever it takes. He was in the training room non-stop,” said Huggins of McCabe. “It was sore, but once you start playing, you don’t think that much about it.
“The thing with Jordan is he’s struggling to make shots right now,” added WVU’s head coach. “I also thought Jordan’s ball security at the end of last year was better than it is right now. I don’t know if he’s pressing or what. He says he’s not, but he has to have better ball security. That’s true of the entire team. You just can’t have 22 turnovers.”
Thursday’s matchup between the Mountaineers and Governors will tip off at 7 p.m. on Thursday. It will be televised throughout the state of West Virginia on stations that are part of the Nexstar network – WVNS in Beckley, WOWK in Charleston, WBOY in Clarksburg and WTRF in Wheeling. A live stream of the broadcast will also be available at WVUSports.com.