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Jan 22, 2024 6:13 pm

Giant-slaying West Virginia takes on UCF

West Virginia will be bringing a confident team to Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday night when it visits UCF for a Big 12 Conference game.

The Mountaineers (7-11, 2-3 Big 12) are coming off a 91-85 upset victory over then-No. 3 Kansas at home on Saturday.

UCF (11-6, 2-3) scored its season low for points Saturday in a 57-42 road loss to then-No. 5 Houston.

West Virginia has now played four ranked teams this January. The Mountaineers lost away games to then-No. 3 Houston on Jan. 6 and then-No. 15 Oklahoma last Wednesday but notched home wins over then-No. 25 Texas on Jan. 13 and then-No. 3 Kansas on Saturday.

“It’s a great day to be a Mountaineer,” West Virginia coach Josh Eilert said after the Kansas victory. “Hopefully that goes a long way in terms of moving forward and continuing to grind through the Big 12 — because it really is a grind.”

RaeQuan Battle, a 6-foot-5 swingman, scored 23 points in the upset of Kansas to lead the Mountaineers, who also got a career-best 20 points from Pat Suemnick and 15 from Kerr Kriisa.

“I’m going to savor this tonight,” Eilert said, “but tomorrow, it’s right back to it to figure out a game plan for Central Florida.”

Battle leads West Virginia with 19.5 points per game, supported by Quinn Slazinski (13.8 ppg) and Noah Farrakhan (11.7 ppg).

In the loss to Houston, UCF was led by Marchelus Avery’s 10 points off the bench, as none of the Knights’ starters scored more than five points.

On the bright side, UCF held Houston to 34.5 percent shooting from the field.

“I thought we defended hard, and for stretches I feel like we defended well, too,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. “At large, I think our guys’ energy and effort was there defensively.”

Jaylin Sellers (17.1 ppg) and Darius Johnson (13.5 ppg), a pair of junior guards, are the Knights’ top two scorers on the season.

West Virginia leads the series between the schools 1-0. This is UCF’s first season in the Big 12.

–Field Level Media

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