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January 9, 2013

WVU women host Texas

MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia University women’s basketball team and the Texas Longhorns will tip off at 7 p.m. today at the WVU Coliseum.

Both the Mountaineers (8-5, 0-2) and the Longhorns (7-6, 0-2) are in search of their first Big 12 victory as WVU has dropped its first two conference games to Oklahoma and Kansas by a combined four points. Texas enters Wednesday’s game after falling in overtime at Iowa State, 73-65, and to Oklahoma at home, 78-70, on Saturday.

The Longhorns return only two starters and seven total letter-winners from a team that went 18-13 and 13-4 last season. UT made it to the first round of the NCAA tournament last season, which was also the last meeting between Texas and West Virginia, as WVU cut the Longhorns’ postseason short with a 68-55 loss in Norfolk, Va.

Texas added seven newcomers to this season’s roster, including true freshman starter Empress Davenport with 11 starts to her name and Imani McGee-Stafford who has earned seven starts this season. McGee-Stafford rounds out the top four scorers with 10.5 points per game along with the second-highest rebounding average of 8.2 boards per game. McGee-Stafford, who stands at 6-foot-7, helps Texas to a blocking advantage as she has recorded 35 blocked shots this season for a team total of 5.9 blocks per game to lead the league.

Junior guard Chassidy Fussell leads five players averaging double-figure scoring numbers as she averages 16.6 points per game in 11 games this season. Fussell also leads Texas from 3-point range as she has hit 23-of-61 threes this season (37.7 percent).

Sophomore forward Nneka Enemkpali averages 14.8 points per game and is Texas’ leading rebounder with 11.0 boards per game, helping her team to 48.5 rebounds per game, the most in the league. Texas holds a 13.6 rebounding advantage over opponents, the second-highest margin in the Big 12.

Junior guard Taylor Palmer averages 27.0 points per game in Big 12 outings, which matches Tiffany Bias from Oklahoma State for the league-leading scoring average. In all games this season, Palmer leads WVU with 12.5 points per game and is followed in scoring by Christal Caldwell with 11.4 points per game. Ayana Dunning is the only other Mountaineer recording scoring numbers in double figures with 10.1 points per game, and also serves as WVU’s rebounding leader with 6.8 rebounds per game.

As a team, the Mountaineers have held league opponents to only 27.8 percent shooting from 3-point range, the third-lowest percentage in the league, however, averaging 7.0 threes a game, WVU holds the third-highest 3-point field goal average per game.

WVU holds the 1-0 advantage in the all-time series with Texas. It will be the first meeting in the WVU Coliseum.

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