West Virginia (0-1) vs. Marist (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 22, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: HP Field House (5,000) in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: WVU 0-0, Marist 0-1. Away Record: WVU 0-1, Marist 1-1. Neutral Record: WVU 0-0, Marist 0-0. Conference Record: WVU 0-0, Marist 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Back in action for the first time since Nov. 12, the West Virginia Mountaineers kick off the 2012 version of the Old Spice Classic on Thursday with a meeting against the Marist Red Foxes.
Head coach Bob Huggins has had plenty of time to fix the flaws he saw in his Mountaineers during a season-opening loss to Gonzaga on the road. At the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane 10 days ago, Huggins watched his squad miss its first 10 three-point shots and fall behind by 27 points at the break before suffering the unsightly 84-50 setback.
Despite the setback, Huggins is still one of the most successful, active coaches in the NCAA with a total of 710 victories over the course of 31 seasons. Because of his success, it was announced on Wednesday that Huggins and WVU agreed to an amended contract extension. Under the agreement, following the 2017-18 campaign, the coach would assume a five-year Emeritus status appointment if he chooses to stop coaching the Mountaineers.
As for the Red Foxes, they've already got three games under their belt, but only one win to show for their efforts. The team began with back-to-back defeats against Stony Brook and Colgate before squeezing out a 67-62 triumph over Columbia on the road last Saturday.
West Virginia, which is facing off against the Red Foxes for the first time, was involved in this event back in 2006, losing to Arkansas in the finals by a score of 71-64. Marist was here that first year as well, finishing in third place.
Both teams will be back in action on Friday, taking on Vanderbilt and Davidson, with the exact matchups to be determined.
The opener for the Mountaineers was simply dreadful, the team shooting just 1- of-13 behind the three-point line in the first half and 3-of-26 for the entire game as the Gonzaga Bulldogs ran them off the court. In addition to sinking only 15 total field goals in the outing, West Virginia also turned the ball over 20 times and allowed the hosts to convert both 52.0 percent from the floor and 56.3 percent (9-of-16) out on the perimeter. Aaric Murray was the lone double-digit scorer for WVU with his 14 points, adding four rebounds and three blocked shots. Deniz Kilicli, expected to be one of the leaders on this group moving forward, made just 2-of-6 shots from the floor, suffered five turnovers and accounted for a mere five points and five rebounds before fouling out. Fellow starter, Juwan Staten, was on the floor for 34 minutes, but missed all six of his field goal attempts and was held scoreless.
In a game that featured nine ties and 11 lead changes, the Red Foxes turned it on at just the right time against Columbia as they built their biggest lead of the game in the final seconds. Chavaughn Lewis helped lead the attack with his team-high 19 points, adding seven rebounds and three assists for the visitors, while Devin Price, who made only 6-of-18 shots from the floor, chipped in 16 points of his own. Price, who made 4-of-9 shots behind the three-point line versus the Lions, is now shooting only 6-of-20 out on the perimeter and a woeful 28.3 percent from the floor overall, and yet he is still the leading scorer for Marist with his 14.3 ppg. Adam Kemp (11.0 ppg) is averaging a double-double for the program with 10.0 rpg, but at the same time he has limited his production due to foul trouble each time out. With 10.7 ppg, Lewis is also a key piece of the Marist offense, but he really needs to work on his accuracy from the field (.353).
Getting blown away by Gonzaga may have been the best thing for the Mountaineers because now they realize that they will have to work hard for their victories this year.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 71, Marist 59
11/22 10:31:52 ET