The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

February 24, 2012

WVU looking to rebound

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University has to be glad it plays another game tonight.

If nothing else, it may help erase the bad taste from a disappointing 71-44 loss Wednesday night at Notre Dame.

The Mountaineers certainly hope they can bounce back, but it will take a much better effort against No. 10-ranked Marquette in a Big East men’s basketball matchup at WVU Coliseum.

Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. in a game televised by ESPN.

Marquette, which defeated Rutgers Wednesday, brings a 23-5 overall, 12-3 Big East record to Morgantown.

WVU is 17-11, 7-8 for the season.

Marquette has yet to claim a victory in Morgantown, most recently dropping a 63-62 decision to WVU in the 2009-10 season. Golden Eagles seniors Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, the current Big East Player of the Week, are both All-Big East candidates.

Johnson-Odom is ranked second in scoring in all games (18.7 ppg.) and first in league-only contests (19.7 ppg.). He is also among the conference’s best in free throw percentage (11th, .782), 3-point field goal percentage (5th, .404) and 3-pointers per game (4th, 2.33).

Crowder is one of just two players in the league ranked among the top-15 performers in seven different categories. Through games of Feb. 22, he ranks seventh in scoring (17.1 ppg.), 10th in rebounding (7.7 rpg.), 11th in field goal percentage (.515), second in steals (2.39 spg.), 13th in 3-pointers per game (1.86), 11th in 3-point field goal percentage (.385) and fifth in defensive rebounds per outing (5.89).

Senior Kevin Jones, a Big East Player of the Year favorite, leads the Mountaineers with 20.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest.

Darryl “Truck” Bryant contributes 16.5 points with Deniz Kilicli adding 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for WVU.

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The 27-point loss to Notre Dame was the Mountaineers’ worst since losing by 38, 84-46 at Villanova in 2005, and it was coach Bob Huggins’ worst loss since falling 97-70 at Kansas in 2007 when he was coaching at Kansas State.

“This game is such a mindset and when your mind is not right it’s hard,” said Huggins. “It’s kind of like people who play golf — it’s hard to get turned. When it starts going south it’s hard to get it turned.

“We didn’t get anything in transition and they did get things in transition, obviously, and when you’re constantly playing with positive numbers it bodes well for you and they played with positive numbers all night,” Huggins added.

Jones led WVU with 15 points and eight rebounds, including grabbing the 1,000th rebound of his career. Jones is one of just five players in school history to pull down 1,000 rebounds: The other four are Jerry West (1,240), Lloyd Sharrar (1,178), Warren Baker (1,070) and Willie Bergines (1,025). Baker was the last Mountaineer to do it 26 years ago.

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