Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

Juwan Staten celebrates with walk-on Tyrone Hughes after scoring 35 points in West Virginia’s 81-71 win over Kansas State.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — “Throw hell to the wind.”

That became the maxim for Juwan Staten the past year as he evolved from brooding to breathtaking, a transformation that reached an apex during Saturday’s 35-point performance in an 81-71 win against Kansas State.

Staten’s 35 were the second-most scored by a Big 12 player this season, trailing the 39 Marcus Smart put up against Memphis. And though Smart is a national player of the year candidate, at least two Kansas State players—having witnessed the blur that is Staten—no longer think Oklahoma State has the best point guard in the conference.

“Staten, he’s fast. He can get in the lane and can get by anybody,” said Wildcats guard Marcus Foster. “I feel he’s the best point guard in the league right now.”

MORE: Top-100 wins have been rare … until this week

Superlatives aside, Staten has commanded the ball at crucial junctures this season—those junctures essentially being the time between tip-off and walk-off. Dominating possessions, not in ball-hogging fashion, but at his coach’s insistence, Staten almost single-handedly has become responsible for West Virginia owning of the nation’s best turnover-to-assist ratios.

And when it seemed impossible for WVU to rely on him anymore, Staten assumed an even larger burden in the halfcourt offense Saturday. Working almost exclusively off high ball-screens with shooters spread to both wings, Staten zipped through the lane in explosive and repeated bursts. His 8-of-13 shooting conveyed but a piece of the story because Staten drew 13 fouls and made 18-of-21 free throws.

The K-State defense that prefers to clog the lane entered the day allowing a league-low 61 points per game, but it proved unable to slow Staten one-on-one and unwilling to peel off WVU’s shooters. (Perhaps because Terry Henderson and Eron Harris had scored 11 points each in the first half and Remi Dibo was coming off a strong shooting night at Baylor.)

“They tend to pack it in, and when the ball goes on one side they have three people on the help line and it’s hard to get a shot,” Staten said. “But when you keep everybody spread, it really makes the defense make a decision: Either they help and give up a 3 or they don’t help and have to play great defense.”

K-State coach Bruce Weber seemed to revel in the simplicity of WVU moving away from its normal motion offense—which features every player cutting to the basket—and creating, essentially, a widespread panic in which only Staten and the screener were attacking the rim.

“Staten is a heck of a player,” Weber said. “He was playing so well that West Virginia wasn’t running any plays.”

BOXSCORE: West Virginia 81, Kansas State 71

With Harris and Henderson going silent in the second half—combining for 0-of-5 shooting and just two points—Staten carried WVU by scoring 23 of its 42 points.

“I just want to win. If I have to play 40 minutes, if I have to try to create every play—whatever it takes,” he said.

Technically, he played only 38 minutes this time, yet that was 38 more than he played some 12 months ago when K-State came to the Coliseum and edged West Virginia 65-64. That day Staten was benched following a dust-up with Huggins, and few around the program could have imagined how coach and point guard would one day exist in such trusting harmony.

Now Huggins compares Staten’s commitment level to those oft-mentioned coach’s pets of yesteryear, and the new combination of desire, conviction and refreshed psychology has yielded a terrifically rejuvenated player.

“Last year I played with a lot on my mind and was second-guessing myself,” explained Staten, admitting he worried too much about “what people thought about me or what they were saying about me.”

But he has since listened less to the doubters and more to his father’s adage—”just throw hell to the wind and play basketball.”

He certainly threw hell at K-State on Saturday, far more than the Wildcats could handle.

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  • Aaron

    I recall saying a few weeks ago after the loss at home to Ok State that if Smart was the best PG in the conference, Staten was the 2nd. About the only thing I can see that Smart has on Staten is 4 inches and a better 3 point shot. Staten is much quicker and handles the ball as well as, if not better than Smart.

    He's turned into the catalyst of this team which can be attributed to 2 things. His willingness to learn and great coaching. This team will improve immensely if they can find 3 more wins and one tournament win to advance to the NIT and gain valuable experience.

    If no other recruits are added other than Holton and Macon, this will be a pre-season Big 12 team next year. Despite what some say after the losses, it's a great time to be a Mountaineer.

  • WVcoal

    Staten's game has improved tremendously since the start of the season. If Henderson, Brown, and Dibo can continue to improve this team could make some noise at the Big 12 tournament. Williams has high ceiling and will be a force to contend with soon. This team has already exceeded my expectations -- the future is bright at WVU.

  • Andy

    I have to admit, I had given up on Staten halfway through last season...relegating him to the Aaric Murray crowd. Boy was I wrong. He 'gets it' and has improved in one year as much as any player I've ever seen....mmmmm crow.

  • Mike in Teays Valley

    One of the things really like about this team is how well-spoken these kids are in their post game interviews. They seem like really good young men who want to win as a team.

    I get frustrated with their uncanny lack of ability to extend leads but give them credit, they battle and play hard.

    Thanks guys for representing the Mountaineer family with class and grit!

  • jwg66

    Was it just me, or did anyone else notice the height he gets on his mid range jumpers? I knew he was quick and have seen him taking care of the ball, but his athleticism is really fun to watch! And he was certainly not a 70 % FT shooter on this day. Great to see his abilities correctly used and his confidence back up. A good PG is as hard to recruit as good big men. Glad he is on our side!

  • Duane

    Who's the DB reporter asking stupid questions? You can tell he's trying to get Juwan say something controversial. I don't know if I could keep my cool and not punch that Richard head in the face!

  • Bernie

    I agree with Mountain Navy..'Where are the haters" Get in your closet and stay there. The rest of us true Mountaineers will enjoy a wild ride to the end of the season. We may lose a game or two but the team will play hard and we will see the younger players get better and better. You can hear the respect for Huggs from the players if you listen. It's just tough love and the results are showing. GO ERRS!!!!!

    • GoEers


  • jay ziehm

    Good game for Staten to bad this is a 2 man team. I still think that they will fall flat before the seasons ends. big twelve title contender next year. I don't think so. maybe two years. those last three (3) for a NIT bid will be rough. In order to get a NCAA bid they'll have to win the big 12 tournament. snowball chance in hell but some cellar dwellers have done it in the past.

    • GoEers

      If anyone knows about cellar dwellers it would definitely be you Jay ziehm...your favorite team marshall is a cellar dweller in the worst conference in college basketball

    • Bross

      Go back to the blundering herd.

      • leroy j gibbs


        • Aaron


          • WVcoal


  • leroy j gibbs

    Juwan is the new da'sean!

  • shawn

    It's bout that action boss!

  • squad

    we are getting very close to what Calhoun did with kemba walker... you hate to rely on one guy so much but at this point, our worry should be about him leaving for the nba tis year.. i'm sure he'd get drafted at this moment

    • justin

      didnt kemba and calhoun get a national championship? your observations are stupid. go cheer for marshall.

  • Aaron

    This is why JuWan Staten came to West Virginia University to play for HOF Coach Bob Huggins. There's more to basketball than X's and O's and this is a reaffirmation of that simple fact.

    The only concern I have now is has JuWan moved into Joe Alexander territory? With the need for PG's at the next level, when Staten explores his options in a few months, what will those on at the next level tell him?

    Draft express currently has him ranked at the 71st before yesterday. That is certainly going to change.

  • Mountain Navy.

    So where are the Huggin haters now? Great game yesterday this team gets better and better every game.

    • Hailey

      Unfortunately until he beats a team ranked in the top 25 the haters will stick around. We will beat OU next it

  • squad

    I love him...and no matter what line if work you are in, he is 100% right. "throw hell to the wind: which sponsor is going to make "throw hell to the wind" t shirts???? id love one!!!

  • David Kennedy

    This teams overall improvement has been incredible this year.
    I thought they would be a 'next years team, and they will be..but this year's team is really looking good.
    They will be a force when tournament time begins.
    Go Huggs !!!!

    • GoEers