By Cam Huffman
Marshall (5-3) vs. West Virginia (2-3) men’s basketball
Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic
Charleston Civic Center
WANT TO WATCH
The game will air locally on WVNS and will be available online at ESPN3.com.
This will be the 41st all-time hardwood meeting between the state’s two largest schools.
WVU holds a 29-11 advantage in the all-time series and has won five of the last six. The teams first met in Morgantown in 1929, a 44-21 Mountaineer victory. This will be the 22nd straight year the game will be played in Charleston.
LAST YEAR’S GAME
WVU defeated Marshall 78-62 on Jan. 18. Kevin Jones led all scorers with 25 points for the Mountaineers, while Truck Bryant had 22. Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne scored 10 each.
Marshall was led by DeAndre Kane, who scored 19, and Damier Pitts, who scored 15.
The game was tied at 30-all at halftime, but WVU outscored the Herd 48-32 over the final 20 minutes.
Many were forecasting a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987 this year for the Herd, but Marshall has struggled, at times, during the early portion of its schedule.
After blowing out Longwood 81-47 in the opener, Marshall hit the road for a four-game trip, and it came back with three losses. MU fell to Villanova 80-68 to start the trip, and after beating District of Columbia 80-58 in the opening game of the 2K Sports Classic, The Herd fell to South Dakota State (78-77) and Hofstra (103-100 2OT) to finish out the tournament and return home with a 2-3 record.
Back in Huntington, though, MU has been on a row, knocking off Nevada (89-82), Morehead State (70-67) and UNC Wilmington (61-58) the last three times out.
The Mountaineers’ season couldn’t have started any worse. WVU opened on the road at No. 19 Gonzaga, and it struggled in every aspect of the game, falling 84-50.
WVU looked better the next time out, blowing out Marist in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic, 87-44, but it lost the next two in the holiday tournament in Orlando, Fla., falling to Davidson (63-60) and Oklahoma (77-70).
The last time out, the Mountaineers hosted Virginia Military in their first home game of the season, and they won easily, 94-69. It’s been a full week since WVU has played a game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
DeAndre Kane — The junior guard leads the Herd with 16 points per game, and he ranks fourth nationally with 8.4 assists per outing.
Dennis Tinnon — Averaging 9.4 rebounds per game, the 6-foot-8 senior forward ranks 38th nationally in that category.
Juwan Staten — The sophomore guard leads the WVU team in scoring, averaging 10.8 points per game.
Aaric Murray — The LaSalle transfer leads the Big 12 in offensive rebounding, averaging 3.6 offensive boards per contest, and he’s sixth in the league with eight blocked shots in just five games.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Marshall head coach Tom Herrion (third season) — “I don’t know if anything can prepare you for (the physical play of the Capital Classic). It’s a great rivalry with the level of physicality of two highly competitive teams in a rivalry game.”
Marshall center Nigel Spikes — “You’d better be ready to play. You don’t find games like this too often.”
WVU head coach Bob Huggins (sixth season) — “I think we’ve gotten better in some areas, but there are definitely some areas we need to shore up. (Marshall’s) a terrific rebounding team, and we haven’t outrebounded ourselves in practice.”
WVU forward Deniz Kilicli — “This will be a good game. Marshall’s a good team. We lost (to them) once, and they always play really hard against us. They always have good players.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH