WVU hopes to avoid being another Nicholls upset victim


Dec 12, 2019; Morgantown, WV, USA; Austin Peay Governors guard Carlos Paez (1) shoots the ball as West Virginia Mountaineers guard Sean McNeil (22) and Mountaineers forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) defend during the first half at WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia returns to action Saturday at the WVU Coliseum against visiting Nicholls State at 2 p.m.

Nicholls State (6-4) of the Southland Conference has proven a pesky foe for Power 6 conference opponents so far this year. NSU is 1-2 in three games against Power 6 foes this season, including a 75-70 upset victory at Pitt on Nov. 9. The Colonels took Illinois to overtime in Champaign, Ill, before falling to the Illini, 78-70, in their season opener. Nicholls State lost at LSU, 75-65, on Nov. 16, and fell at Rhode Island, 70-65, on Nov. 19.

The Mountaineers (8-1) got back on the winning track Thursday night with an 84-53 rout of Austin Peay.

Senior guard Dexter McClanahan leads the Colonels in scoring with 17.1 points per game. Sophomore forward Warith Alatishe leads NSU with 8.6 rebounds a contest to go along with his 9 points per game scoring average. Junior point guard Kevin Johnson paces NSU in assists with a 4.2 per game average.

As has been the case for most WVU opponents thus far this season, depth figures to be a concern for the Colonels. They have four players averaging more than 25 minutes a contest. The only Mountaineer to average that many minutes is Emmitt Mathews Jr. at 28.3.

WVU forward Oscar Tshiebwe has been inconsistent in his freshman campaign. Despite that inconstancy, Tshiewbe still leads the Mountaineers in scoring (12 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rebounds per game). WVU has a balanced scoring attack with four players averaging in double figures.

Saturday afternoon’s game is being broadcast by AT&T Sportsnet out of Pittsburgh. It will be the network’s final WVU broadcast as the Big 12 Conference’s agreement with ESPN Plus begins with the new year. AT&T Sportsnet (previously ROOT Sports) has televised numerous Mountaineers football and basketball contests for more than a decade.

Despite Nicholls State’s propensity for playing Power 6 schools close, WVU is a 20 1/2 point favorite in the game.