By Dave Morrison
Depending on what the polls say, West Virginia’s game against Villanova tonight might be a first in WVU Coliseum history.
The No. 6 Mountaineers (19-3, 8-2 Big East) stand to rise at least a spot in the polls, what with them completing a 2-0 week and No. 5 Michigan State and the No. 2 Wildcats losing over the weekend.
Villanova likely will not fall out of the top five after losing to Georgetown 103-90 Saturday in Washington, D.C.
That makes tonight’s 7 p.m. tip-off the first game between a top-5 West Virginia team and an opponent also in the top 5.
The game will be shown live on ESPN as a part of the network’s Big Monday package.
More importantly, it gives WVU a chance to cash in a big win as it continues to push toward a possible bye in the first round of the Big East tournament.
The Mountaineers are coming off a 19-point win over St. John’s. It was a game WVU trailed by 16 early in the second half.
“We probably weren’t ready to play,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said. “I kept telling them and telling them and telling them. I didn’t kill them for two days — I didn’t really grind on them for two days and tried to coach them and clean some stuff up.”
Clean they did. Da’Sean Butler went off as WVU outscored St. John’s 57-27 in the second half.
The game will be a matchup of two of the Big East’s top players.
Butler is coming off a 33-point game which saw him hit a Big East record 7 of 7 three-pointers.
He is now averaging 17.3 points per game and has a team-best 44 three-pointers.
Butler is second on the team in assists (74, one behind point guard Truck Bryant) and is third in rebounds (6.2).
Scottie Reynolds is averaging 18.7 points per game for Villanova (20-2, 9-1). He is also averaging 2.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and is largely considered by many as the conference’s top all-around player.
Butler has to be in the mix now. He has come up time and time again for WVU and Saturday was no different.
“We ran a couple of sets for him and actually changed some things that we usually run for our guards and we ran them for him in the second half, just kind hoping he would make a couple and get it going,” Huggins said.
Kevin Jones is averaging 14.2 ppg and 7.6 rebounds, Devin Ebanks 11.1 and a team-high 8.2 rebounds and Bryant 10.3 ppg.
The other starter, Wellington Smith, one of three Mountaineers to start all 22 games, is averaging 6.0 ppg. He had 16 during a 26-7 run in the second half that helped WVU overtake St. John’s.
Other leaders for the Wildcats are Corey Fisher (13.7 ppg), Antonio Pena (11.0 and a team-best 7.4 rebounds), Corey Stokes (9.1) and Taylor King (9.1 and 5.9 rebounds).
The Mountaineers didn’t fly back to Morgantown until Sunday afternoon because of Saturday’s blizzard in the northeast.
Huggins did a lot of work Saturday night from his hotel room in New York City.
“It will be much like the Big East tournament,” he said Saturday after the win. “We will be sitting in my room watching the Villanova tape trying to get ready to go play on Monday.”