BLACKSBURG, Va. — The undeniable highlight from Juwan Staten’s mercurial sophomore season as West Virginia’s point guard was this: Driving through the Virginia Tech defense for a go-ahead layup with five seconds left.
Staten’s bucket made the difference in a 68-67 win inside the nearly-packed WVU Coliseum, and Tuesday the Mountaineers visit Virginia Tech for the return game.
“We definitely know they’re going to be coming at us hard,” Staten said. “It will be a good road test for us early.”
WVU (1-0) and the Hokies (0-1) share an odd 1 p.m. weekday start time as part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-off Marathon.
Thanks to graduation and suspensions, Virginia Tech’s roster looks drastically different than when these old rivals tangled last December in Morgantown. “There’s no Erick Greene to worry about—that’s definitely a relief,” Staten joked.
Green, the nation’s leading scorer last season at 25 points per game, dropped 23 on WVU and missed a potential game-changing 3-pointer at the buzzer. Now that Green is playing in Italy, Virginia Tech was expected to turn the point guard duties over to Marquis Rankin, but he’s away from the team dealing with personal issues, which leaves freshman Devin Wilson as the starter.
West Virginia could be missing a key player of its own, with guard Terry Henderson (shin inflammation) unable to go through a full practice Monday before team bus departed campus. Freshman forward Nathan Adrian is probable after spraining his ankle in the second half in a 77-62 win over against Mount Saint Mary’s.
That could necessitate another punchy offensive performance from Staten, who scored a career-best 22 in the opener.