The West Virginia Mountaineers dropped Tuesday’s game to the Texas Longhorns, 85-78, but that wasn’t the only thing they lost. Senior guard Jaysean Paige suffered an ankle injury in the defeat.
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Paige Could Play Against Oklahoma
Tuesday, Feb. 16
According to Alex Chippin of theScore.com, Paige’s injury was an ankle sprain. West Virginia’s next contest is Saturday against Oklahoma, and head coach Bob Huggins said, “If there’s any way possible, Jaysean will play,” per Chris Anderson of 247Sports.
Paige left Tuesday’s game in the first half and did return, but he ultimately checked out for the remainder. He was held scoreless in six minutes.
As of Tuesday, he led his team with 14 points a night as one of the go-to options on the offensive end. Paige was shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range and helps space the floor for facilitators such as Jevon Carter and Tarik Phillip. He also averages 3.7 boards and 1.6 steals per game as an important part of the full-court press West Virginia is known for on defense.
West Virginia is now 9-4 in Big 12 play and a game behind the 10-3 Kansas Jayhawks. This injury is even more concerning because the Mountaineers have lost two of their last three games, including a showdown on Feb. 9 at Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas, and need to turn things around in their upcoming matchups.
Their next two games come against No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday and No. 13 Iowa State on Monday, which is a daunting enough task at full strength. This is a critical stretch of the season, and No. 10 West Virginia needs its leading scorer in the lineup if it plans on making a run at the Jayhawks and contending for a top-notch seed in the NCAA tournament.
That is especially the case because Paige carried West Virginia’s offense for large stretches in earlier matchups against those Sooners and Cyclones:
|Jan. 16||Oklahoma||70-68 loss||18||6-10||2-3||4||3||2|
|Feb. 2||Iowa State||81-76 win||23||10-17||1-2||6||0||1|
Paige also scored 26 points in West Virginia's 74-63 victory over Kansas on Jan. 12 and capped it off with this dunk, per WVUSports:
Kansas has won an incredible 11 straight regular-season Big 12 titles, and its closest competition in the standings is the Mountaineers. Huggins said Paige will play “if there’s any way possible,” but the Jayhawks’ seemingly never-ending grip on the conference could get even tighter down the stretch if West Virginia’s top scorer is limited or missing in crucial Big 12 games.