By Dave Morrison
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Last March, Morehead State pulled one of the early upsets of the NCAA Tournament, when the Eagles stunned Louisville 62-61 on a Demonte Harper 3-pointer.
That highlighted a most impressive 25-10 season for the Ohio Valley Conference champions.
“Obviously it was the biggest win in the history of our program and we set a school record with 25 wins, so it certainly doesn’t get much better than that,” Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall said.
They will get another chance at the Big East tonight when they take on West Virginia at the Charleston Civic Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ROOT Sports (with Rob King and former WVU and Greenbrier East great Warren Baker on the call).
Of course, this will be a different team than the Morehead squad that subdued Louisville.
Gone is Kenneth Faried, a 6-foot-8, 228-pound strongman inside, who was a first-round draft choice of the Denver Nuggets. Ironically, Denver is where Morehead State stunned Louisville.
Nobody understands the importance of Faried’s presence in the paint than Mountain State coach Bob Bolen, whose Cougars beat Morehead 84-69 earlier this month in an exhibition game at Morehead. He also faced the Eagles in an exhibition last year and lost.
“Any team that loses a first-round draft choice is going to be a different team,” Bolen said. “I think Morehead is a good team but I also thought we played tremendously at Morehead.”
The Eagles are 1-2 coming into tonight’s game against WVU. Most recently, they beat NAIA Asbury (Ky.) 100-48.
Morehead State returns Terrance Hill (13.3 ppg), Ty Profitt and Drew Kelly, a Miami (Ohio) transfer.
The other starters are 6-7 Jordan Percell and 6-0 guard Lamond Austin.
Milton Chavis is the leading rebounder, at 6.7 boards off the bench.
“They’re going to press us the whole game and they’re going to play the 1-1-3, the old amoeba that Pitt used to play back in the day,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said. “That will be good for us — it’s good for a young basketball team to be able to see a lot of different things.
“The more things that we see, the more that we go over things, the more they will have a frame of reference and the better off we’re going to be down the road.”
Morehead will also have to contain West Virginia senior forward Kevin Jones. The senior has started fast in WVU’s first three games (2-1).
He is averaging 21.3 points per game and 13 rebounds.
Senior Truck Bryant (15.7), junior Deniz Kilicli (10.7, 7 rebounds) and freshman Jabarie Hinds (10.7) are also averaging double figures as starters.
Freshman Keaton Myles is expected to be the other starter.
Tonight’s game is the 77th all-time in Charleston for WVU, which has a 56-20 mark in the Capital City.