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No. 22 BYU Set To Face Healthy West Virginia Squad In Morgantown

Feb 2, 2024, 10:55 AM | Updated: 11:25 am

PROVO, Utah – The last time BYU traveled to Morgantown to face the West Virginia Mountaineers, Harry S. Truman was the President of the United States.

Saturday afternoon will be the first meeting on the country roads between BYU and WVU since 1947. It will mark the first as Big 12 foes.

Both teams come into the game riding high after wins in their last outings.

No. 22 BYU defeated Texas last Saturday in Provo. West Virginia defeated Cincinnati on Wednesday on its home floor.

BYU had a midweek bye to prepare for the cross-country trip to Morgantown. Midweek byes are new on the Big 12 schedule this year, as there is no longer an SEC/Big 12 Challenge in the middle of league play.

West Virginia leads the all-time series against BYU, 2-0. Along with the 1947 meeting in Morgantown, they last met in 1973 at the Far West Classic in Portland, Oregon.

BYU vs. West Virginia: How To Watch, Listen

Location: WVU Coliseum

City: Morgantown, West Virginia

Tip-Off: 4 p.m. (MT)/6 p.m. (ET)

TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Coverage begins at Noon with Cougar Sports Saturday)

What you need to know about No. 22 BYU basketball

BYU comes into the matchup with West Virginia averaging 73.1 points per game in Big 12 play and allowing 73.4 points. The offensive production is good for fifth in the league, while defensively, BYU is eighth in the conference in points allowed.

BYU has been competitive in every game they’ve played in Big 12 play. Last week against Texas, they got down early but stormed back with its inside play. An unexpected look for BYU, who has emerged as one of the nation’s top three-point shooting teams this season.

BYU scored 40 points in the paint against Texas, thanks in part to forward Fousseyni Traore.

The 6-foot-6 junior forward has dealt with a hamstring injury since November. Last Saturday’s performance against Texas was the best version of Traore since nonconference play, as he scored 16 points and had six rebounds off the bench.

The presence of Traore in the post allowed BYU to get to the free-throw line more than usual last week. Traore had four attempts, and as a team, BYU had 15. During Big 12 play, BYU has only attempted 95 free throws. Compare that to West Virginia, who leads the conference in free throw attempts at 179.

Traore said he feels healthy and is ready for Saturday.

When Traore steps into action, he will likely get the task of defending West Virginia big man Jesse Edwards, who is back from a wrist injury he suffered in December.

BYU has been dealing with a flu bug for the past few weeks. Last week, reserve forward Richie Saunders played through it. This week, Aly Khalifa is battling through a sickness that has limited his availability in practice. Khalifa didn’t practice on Thursday.

Along with Khalifa, BYU freshman Marcus Adams was not at practice. Pope said that Adams had his first full practice last week.

One player that has shined in recent games for BYU is 6-foot-11 forward Noah Waterman. In the last three games Waterman has played in, he’s scored at least 17 points and grabbed at least three rebounds.

Not only has Waterman been knocking down shots from three, something he’s been known for, he’s slashing to the basket and attacking the rim.

Getting to know the West Virginia Mountaineers

Saturday is an interesting game for BYU as it represents a Quad 3 game. Anything below a Quad 1 or Quad 2 matchup always has the potential to hurt an NCAA Tournament resume.

BYU knows that better than most from its time in the landmine-filled WCC the past decade.

But this Quad 3 matchup against West Virginia isn’t your typical down-and-out team in February. For the first time this season, the Mountaineers have their entire collection of personnel.

West Virginia has had a roller-coaster season from the firing of Bob Huggins before the year started, suspension to guard Kerr Kriisa, battling in the courts for a waiver to RaeQuan Battle, an injury to Jesse Edwards, and then the grind of playing a power conference schedule.

Despite all of the twists and turns for WVU, they have found a way to secure some big wins on their home floor.

“This West Virginia team is really good,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “So all they’ve done in the last two weeks is beat Kansas, Texas, and Cincinnati. And that’s an eight-win team. Like, go figure.”

The return of Syracuse transfer center Jesse Edwards has suddenly changed the outlook on West Virginia’s potential for the rest of the season. Edwards scored 25 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and had four blocks against Cincinnati. He was the first-ever West Virginia player to have 25, 10, four in a game.

BYU was one of many schools that contacted Edwards when he entered the Transfer Portal last April. The coaching staff is well aware of his talent.

“If you talk about one piece that’s going to change your whole existence as a team, [that’s Jesse Edwards],” Pope said.

Another player that BYU coaches are well aware of is Kerr Kriisa. The former Arizona Wildcat was a prospect that BYU recruited heavily on multiple occasions. Kriisa is averaging 10.9 points and 4.7 assists this season. It should be a good matchup between Kriisa and BYU’s Dallin Hall.

BYU/West Virginia Fast Facts

BYU

Overall record: 15-5

Big 12 record: 3-4

NET: 6

KenPom: 9

AP ranking: No. 22

Coaches Poll: No. 21

West Virginia

Overall record: 8-13

Big 12 record: 3-5

NET: 145

KenPom: 131

AP ranking: Not ranked

Coaches Poll: Not ranked

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s’ coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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No. 22 BYU Set To Face Healthy West Virginia Squad In Morgantown