MORGANTOWN - A word of warning, just so we're clear on this and you don't waste your time: There are numbers ahead.
No, I'm not what you would call a stats guy, but numbers do interest me.
And I have somehow become fascinated with a statistic that has come out of West Virginia's last couple of basketball games.
It's the Mountaineers' assist totals, or, more precisely, the team's ratio of assists to field goals. It has been nearly perfect in games against DePaul and Syracuse.
In a game against the Blue Demons last weekend, WVU made 28 field goals and 25 of those were assisted. Then, on Monday night at the Carrier Dome, it was 17 field goals and 14 assists.
For those counting at home, that's 37 assists on 45 baskets the past two games. If you stretch back into the final minutes of West Virginia's previous game, against Pitt, you will find the numbers are 42 of 52.
Folks, that's a healthy percentage. Consider that going into the game against DePaul, West Virginia had 348 assists and 566 field goals. That means 61.5 percent of the team's field goals in the first 23 games were assisted.
In the last two games, that number has skyrocketed to 82.2 percent.
OK, so how does that compare nationally? Maybe the Mountaineers were just lousy at assists and this is just a little bump.
Uh, no. The fact is, the average percentage of assists on field goals for teams in Division I basketball this year is roughly 54 percent. A percentage of 70 is simply astronomical. Only one team in the country - you win a prize if you guessed Sam Houston State - is at that number. The really, really, really good teams in this category average 61 to 68 percent. West Virginia, through 25 games now, is at 63 percent. That's 18th in the country.
But 82.2 percent? OK, in one game, sure. Maybe even in two games against like opponents. But in back-to-back games against a DePaul team that played perhaps two possessions of zone defense and then against all-zone, all-the-time Syracuse?
Eighty-two percent? Really?
Just as a point of reference, consider a handful of teams that West Virginia has played this season. Duquesne, for instance, leads the country in assists, so it's no surprise that Ron Everhart's team is third in the country in percentage of assists to field goals (67.9).
Remember Oakland, which WVU played way back in the opening game? Well, the Golden Grizzlies now have more field goals (787) than any team in the country, but Oakland's percentage of assists on those baskets is pretty mundane - 55.2 percent.
Notre Dame, which comes to the Coliseum Saturday, is fourth in the country in assist percentage at 67.7 percent. Louisville and Pitt are also in the top 10.