By Dave Morrison
Register-Herald Sports Writer
West Virginia begins a brutal four-game stretch tonight when the Mountaineers (3-1) host Akron (3-2) at the WVU Coliseum.
WVU also has road games at Mississippi State and Kansas State before returning home to take on Miami Dec. 10.
Akron, a former coaching stop for West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, owns the lone win over Mississippi State and boasts a front line led by 7-foot Zeke Marshall.
The McKeesport, Pa., native averages nine points and 4.2 rebounds and averages just over three blocks per game.
“And he probably changes another 10,” Huggins said. “He’s a factor. They have an exxperienced front line and they have youth, and that is a good combination.”
Akron finished 23-13 last year and lost to Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Quincy Diggs, a 6-6 forward, leads the Zips, averaging 11.2 points per game, and 6-6 Nikola Cvetinovic averages 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds.
“Game in and game out, Diggs has been their best player,” Huggins said. “That’s a good front line.”
Key for the Mountaineers will be 6-9, 270-pound junior Deniz Kilicli, the former MSU Academy standout.
“Deniz has just got to get his head up and make the easy (shots) he gets,” Huggins said. “It’s not a matter of him getting open shots, he just has to make the quality shots he is getting.”
Kilicli is averaging 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for West Virginia.
Kevin Jones is the Mountaineers’ leader, averaging a double-double at 21.8 points and 12.3 rebounds. Truck Bryant is averaging 15.3 points and 3.5 assists and true freshman Jabarie Hinds averages 10 points, 4.3 assists and three rebounds per game.
WVU has won two straight — over Alcorn State and Morehead State — after a loss to Kent State.
“We’re getting better,” Huggins said. “We’re making rotations. We’re doing a much better job rebounding the ball. When you don’t make any rotations, it makes it really hard and allows people to get easy shots.”
The game will tip off at 7 p.m. at will air on ROOT Sports (formerly Fox Pittsburgh) with Rob King and former Greenbrier East and WVU star Warren Baker on the call.
— E-mail: demorrison@