With only one player averaging double figures now 20 games into the season, West Virginia could be looking at the very real possibility of not having a single double-digit scorer by season’s end.
The last time that happened, you might ask? Try 1944, according to Mark DeVault, who operates the Mountaineer stats website WVUstats.com
That’s back when the shorts were a lot higher, the scoring averages were a lot lower and Ike’s Marines were storming the beaches of Normandy. That season, guard Earl Allara from Iaeger, W.Va. averaged a team-best 9.5 points per game as the Mountaineers dropped 11 of 19 games, including seven in a row at one point during the year. It was the only season Harry Lothes coached the Mountaineers before Lee Patton took over.
This year, different players have stepped up at different times, but veteran coach Bob Huggins is still seeking a reliable scoring option that he can go to on a nightly basis. Huggins touched on that subject briefly during his postgame radio show following the Mountaineers’ 61-56 loss to second-ranked Kansas on Monday night.
“We just don’t have a guy that we can go to,” said Huggins. “When we need a basket to stop the bleeding we don’t have anybody you feel pretty good about getting them open.”Aaric Murray
, currently West Virginia’s lone double-digit scorer averaging 10 points per game, was the go-to guy on Monday night against Kansas, scoring a team-best 17 on 7 of 15 shooting while coming off the bench.
Most recently, it was freshman guard Eron Harris
who was averaging 15.3 points over his last four games before putting up just 2 against the Jayhawks on Monday night.
At other times this year, Juwan Staten
, Jabarie Hinds
, Terry Henderson
, Deniz Kilicli
or Gary Browne
has been the team’s No. 1 scoring option.
Presently, the Mountaineers have seven players averaging at least 7.1 points per game – the most of any team in the Big 12 - while Iowa State has the next most with six averaging at least 8.8 points per game, but five of those guys are also averaging double figures.
In conference play, West Virginia’s top two scorers - Hinds and Harris - are both averaging double digits at 11.4 and 10 points per game respectively, while Murray shows an average of 9.7 points in seven Big 12 games.
Interestingly enough, the closest conference team to West Virginia in scoring makeup is Texas Tech (WVU’s next opponent on Saturday), with just one player averaging double digits (Jaye Crockett at 12.7 points per game) and seven players averaging at least 5.3 points per game.
The Red Raiders are also giving up a conference-high 69.9 points per contest and allowed Texas to score 73 in a 16-point loss to the Longhorns last Saturday. However, Texas Tech did limit Iowa State to only 51 points in a recent five-point victory in Lubbock and also held TCU to 53 points in its conference-opening win back on Jan. 5.
Meanwhile, West Virginia has managed to score more than 70 points just once in seven Big 12 games so far this year, that coming against TCU on Jan. 23 in Morgantown in a 71-50 triumph.
The Red Raiders and Mountaineers are ranked seventh and eighth in conference scoring this year, and both are also tied for seventh place in the league standings with identical 2-5 league records.
Considering the offensive difficulties both teams have encountered this season, the first one to reach 60 on Saturday afternoon could very well be the winner. Or perhaps the Mountaineers can find their shooting stroke and light up the scoreboard once again.