Busting Brackets

WVU Basketball: Mountaineers destroyed by Houston in Big 12 opener

Jan 6, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard RaeQuan Battle (21) is guarded y
Jan 6, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard RaeQuan Battle (21) is guarded y / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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3 takeaways for the Mountaineers

1. If RaeQuan Battle isn’t at his best, West Virginia will not win games in the Big 12

RaeQuan Battle has now played 4 games with the Mountaineers. Battle’s scoring totals have been 29, 29, 24, and 4. One of these is not like the others. Battle struggled mightily against Houston. He picked up his second foul early in the first half and struggled to find any rhythm when he checked back into the game. Houston absolutely deserves credit for their game plan against Battle. However, this performance was uncharacteristic of a player who is expected to do a lot more for this team.

RaeQuan Battle : 4 points | 1-9 FG | 3 turnovers | 23 minutes

Not to say that West Virginia would’ve won the game or even lost by single digits, but a 20+ point performance from Battle could’ve allowed them to be somewhat competitive. The Big 12 is the best basketball conference in the country. The odds are very much stacked against the 5-9 Mountaineers. If West Virginia wants to be competitive, Battle will need to be at his best every night. 

2. The absence of Jesse Edwards can not be overstated 

It was a whirlwind of an off-season for the Mountaineers. It has been much of the same through the first 14 games of the regular season. We have still yet to see the 2023-24 version of the Mountaineers at full strength. 4 starters in today’s game against Houston missed significant time to start the season. RaeQuan Battle, Akok Akok, Kerr Kriisa, and Noah Farrakhan are all still adjusting to playing, and playing together. 

On top of that, Jesse Edwards has now missed the last four games with a broken wrist. Houston was able to score in the paint at will without Edwards defendign the rim. Averaging nearly 15 points and 9 rebounds per game, his absence is now what leaves the Mountaineers shorthanded. Assuming that nothing else unexpected happens, when Edwards returns, we will have our first look at this team at full-strength.