West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins did not mince words when talking about Marshall.
The intrastate rivals meet tonight in the annual Capital Classic at 7:30 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center.
“They’re a great rebounding team,” Huggins said. “They’re probably the best that we’ve seen to this point.”
And that will likely be one of the keys to the game, the coach said.
All he has to do is ask a pair of fellow Big East teams.
The Herd outrebounded Cincinnati 43-30 in a 72-69 overtime win over the Bearcats in November and they outrebounded No. 1 Syracuse 46-33 in a 62-56 loss to the Orange Dec. 6.
Marshall (13-4) has especially been active on the offensive glass, led by Dennis Tinnon, who is averaging 10.9 rebounds. He has 81 offensive boards. Robert Goff has 41 offensive boards.
“They get there all the time,” Huggins said. “It’s kind of what I say to our guys all the time, if you get there you might get some (offensive rebounds). If you never get there you’re probably not going to get any (offensive rebounds) and they get there all the time. Tinnon’s got great bounce and he’s got great second bounce, and (Robert) Goff’s a big body with great hands.”
DeAndre Kane leads the Herd in scoring at 15.9 points per game. Damier Pitts is second at 13.4. The point guard is averaging 4.6 assists and has 34 3s.
“Pitts is really good,” Huggins said. “He gets everybody involved; he scores and he makes big shots. He made big shots against us a year ago and when their offense started to get a little stagnant he made big shots for them. He made big shots for them against Cincinnati and he’s made big shots all along.”
Marshall won last year’s Classic 75-71 and Pitts was huge with 25 points. He was 10 of 11 at the free-throw line.
West Virginia is coming off a 24-point win over Rutgers Saturday, led by Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant. Jones is averaging 20.1 points and Bryant 17.8. In WVU’s 13 wins, Bryant is averaging over 20 points per game.
“They did a great job against us last year,” Bryant said. “We’re a different team now and I know we will be ready to play.”
The game will be televised on WVNS-TV (FOX 59).
— E-mail: demorrison@