MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia shares a commonality with its opponent in next year’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge, the Texas A&M Aggies.
Both are defensive-driven teams who must replace their two top scorers.
Texas A&M lost rangy guards Danuel House (15.6 points) and Jalen Jones (15.3) from a Sweet 16 team that shared the SEC regular-season title and finished 28-9. West Virginia must replace Jaysean Paige (13.3 points) and Devin Williams (13.1 points) from a 26-9 club that was the Big 12 runner-up to Kansas before suffering a first-round NCAA upset against Stephen F. Austin.
Both programs also must backfill for other key seniors. Forward Jonathan Holton fronted WVU’s press and ranked among the nation’s top offensive-percentage rebounders. Aggies point guard Anthony Collins average more than five assists per game in his college career while combo guard Alex Caruso (8.1 points, 4.2 assists) appeared in 137 career games.
The Mountaineers finished No. 7 in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency ratings while Texas A&M was No. 12.
Texas A&M returns 6-foot-10 center Tyler Davis (11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds), guard Admon Gilder (7.0 points) and small forward DJ Hogg (6.2 points), all sophomores, and brings in the nation’s 28th-ranked recruiting class according to Rivals.
The full schedule for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Jan. 28, with all 10 games scheduled to appear on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU:
- Kansas at Kentucky
- Arkansas at Oklahoma State
- Auburn at TCU
- Baylor at Ole Miss
- Florida at Oklahoma
- Iowa State at Vanderbilt
- Kansas State at Tennessee
- LSU at Texas Tech
- Texas at Georgia
- Texas A&M at West Virginia
Despite West Virginia’s 0-3 mark in the Challenge, the Big 12 owns a 20-10 edge in the three-year series.
The conferences staged the first two challenges in November and December, generating scant interest. Last year signaled a daylong Saturday slate in the middle of conference action—a grind for the teams but a boost to nationwide exposure.
Though next year’s schedule has not been finalized, the Mountaineers are slated to visit Virginia in Charlottesville and will host Virginia Tech in Morgantown.