Coming off of a 75-63 victory in the championship game of the Cancun Classic, West Virginia returns to Morgantown to face off with the Rhode Island Rams. The upset minded Rams have a record of 5-2 and are led offensively by 5’10 guard Fatts Russell who scores at a prolific 19.6 PPG, which places him 45th in the nation in individual scoring. Russell’s frontcourt partner Jeff Dowtin scores the second most points on the team with 15.0 PPG and is another scoring threat the Mountaineers will need to key on. These guards combine for 34.6 PPG, which is nearly half of their point production and rarely leave the game. 6’8 230 lbs Senior forward Cyril Langevine averages a double-double at 10.0 PPG and 10.7 RPG and provides a solid inside presence.
What to watch for:
1. Oscar Tshiebwe has alternated rough performances with absolutely sensational ones so far this season. More consistency out of our star freshman is something that will need to develop as the season progresses. It’s been a cycle through the first six games this season, but hopefully one he can break in this contest.
2. Fatts Russell and Jeff Dowtin score just under half of their points and the pair log an average of 35.8 minutes per game. We will need to play solid defense like we’ve shown we’re capable of, make them work hard for every point, and utilize our depth to wear them down over time. Rhode Island plays mostly 7 guys and there’s a steep decline in scoring after their top 4.
3. After Cyril Langevine (10.7 RPG) the next highest rebounder for the Rams is Tyrese Martin, who only averages 5.3 RPG. Senior forward Jermaine Harris is also a starter with quality size at 6’8, but only averages 3.9 rebounds per game and doesn’t appear to be an imposing force on the glass. This is a game that West Virginia will have a major rebounding advantage for.
4. West Virginia shot 7-17 (41.2%) from beyond the arc versus Wichita State, which is an improvement from the 30.9% that we are shooting on the season that ranks us 260th out of 353 teams in the nation so far. Our improved outside shooting is something that will need to be continued in order to open up more space on the floor, make teams think twice about double teaming Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver and leaving someone open around the perimeter.
Rhode Island at West Virginia at 2:00PM, December 1. The game can be seen on ATSN or at wvusports.com