After suffering a more than disappointing loss to Notre Dame, West Virginia heads home to take on 10th ranked Marquette. If the Mountaineers think they had a hard time against the Fighting Irish just wait until they play the Golden Eagles.
To quote legendary coach Jim Mora, "And that was a disgraceful performance in my opinion," is the best way to describe the loss to Notre Dame. After only being down by two at the half the Mountaineers were looking like they could pull off an upset. That was until the second half started and they only scored a measly16 points to the Fighting Irish’s 40. West Virginia cannot repeat this performance since Marquette is a much more physical team than Notre Dame.
Once again Kevin Jones led the team in scoring with 15 points. Jones cannot do this alone and he needs the rest of the team to step up and help him out. Truck Bryant was the second highest scorer on the team with 10 points. Bryant started this game, after coming off the bench against Pittsburgh and it seems like he may be out of his slump. In the past two games he has a combined 25 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 steals. Bryant will have to continue this streak if him and Jones want to at least slow down Marquette.
The biggest concern for the Mountaineers is the bench play. Against Notre Dame, Tommie McCune and Dominique Rutledge were the only two players who scored coming off the bench. Granted the Mountaineers were down big early so the starters didn’t get much rest, but the bench has to play more consistently in order for Coach Huggins to trust them more. If they can prove to him that they can come off the bench and make positive contributions then Huggins will be more reluctant to take the starters out and give them significant rest.
On defense the Mountaineers were only able to come away with four steals. Three of these were caused by Bryant while the other was recorded by freshman guard Gary Browne. The steals were the only positive part of the defensive play. In the second half the defenders kept allowing wide open shots that were being knocked down one after another. The defense will have to play much tighter since Marquette has some of the best outside shooters in the Big East.
One of these players is senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom who is averaging 18.7 points per game and is shooting around 40% from the field. The other player is senior forward Jae Crowder who is dropping 17.1 ppg and is shooting 51% from the field. Both these players can shoot from anywhere on the court and make the shots. The players who have to guard Johnson-Odom and Crowder will definitely have their work cut out for them, since not only can these guys shoot, but they are extremely quick and elusive.
This will be a very tough game for the Mountaineers as they have not faced a team with the Golden Eagles' shooting ability or speed. Every player will have to contribute hugely if West Virginia hopes to pull off the upset.
Prediction: WVU-65 Marquette-86
WVU Player of the Game: Kevin Jones 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists
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