Mountaineers not taking Marshall lightly this season in Capital Classic
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 01:01
West Virginia senior Kevin Jones said the Mountaineers took Marshall lightly in last year's Capital Classic.
It resulted in a 75-71 loss – the first loss to Marshall since 2006.
But, Jones knows that if West Virginia is to pull out a win at the Capital Classic in Charleston this season, West Virginia will have to play much better. The Thundering Herd (13-4, 4-0 C-USA) has momentum as it is coming off a crucial conference win against Central Florida. Marshall fell to No. 1 Syracuse by just six at the Carrier Dome Dec. 6.
"(Losing last year) gives us a lot of motivation," Jones said. "lt's a new team, new situation. And this year they are a much improved team. We know that it's going to be a tough game, so we're not taking them lightly."
At 42.9 points per game, Marshall is third in the nation in rebounds.
"They're a pretty good team this year," Jones said. "They rebound the ball really well. They have capable scorers that are able to get a lot of big numbers."
Guards DeAndre Kane and Damier Pitts lead Marshall in scoring with 15.9 points and 13.4 points, respectively.
Junior Dennis Tinnon brings in 9.9 points and collects 10.9 rebounds per game.
Pitts is able to get everyone involved, so scoring isn't his only asset, said WVU head coach Bob Huggins.
"(Marshall head coach Tom Herrion) has done a great job of taking the players that were there and adding what they need too," Huggins said. "He's done a great job recruiting those inside guys. He has them buying into the way he wants them to play."
The Mountaineers, who beat Big East foe Rutgers Saturday 84-60 at the WVU Coliseum, are still relying on Jones to carry the load under the basket.
Jones was named to the John Wooden Award Mid-Season Top 25 averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds.
He's the only player in the country averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
"I've embraced the role, and I have done it to the best of my abilities, more than any other year," Jones said.
Tonight's game will also come as a break in West Virginia's rigourous conference schedule – a break that Huggins isn't thrilled about.
Huggins said he likes playing in Charleston because the game is usually a sellout, but he doesn't know why it couldn't be played in December.
"If in fact, everyone is concerned about football, they're still going to come and watch West Virginia and Marshall," Huggins said. "We share fanbases, and they come to both.
"The truth is, it's better for us when they're good, and its better for them when we're good."
Tip-off for tonight's game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.