West Virginia looks to bounce back from loss against No. 10 Marquette
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012 04:02
Less than 48 hours after suffering its worse this season, the West Virginia men's basketball team will be playing for its season tonight against No. 10 Marquette.
The Golden Eagles have won 11 of their last 12 games, including their last four.
"Obviously, you'd like to have more than one day to prepare," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "They've just done a great job. They're constantly in attack mode."
West Virginia is in desperate need of a win in order to lock up a spot in its fifth-straight NCAA tournament.
It has lost six of its last eight games and slipped in a tie for ninth place in the Big East Conference with a 7-8 record.
Marquette's last four wins have come over DePaul, Cincinnati, Connecticut, and Rutgers. The average margin of victory? 15.5 points. And it's scoring 76.9 points per game this season.
West Virginia is scoring just 72.3 points per game but has scored less than 60 in two of its last four games.
"When you score a basket and you want to look at your mother and wave and they'll run by you," Huggins said. "They're extremely aggressive, and they've got a lot of interchangeable players and (head coach Buzz Williams) does a great job of rotating those interchangeable players."
Marquette has eight players averaging 17 minutes per game.
It's led by senior Darius Johnson-Odom who is scoring 18.7 points per game and is shooting 45.4 percent from the field, including a 40 percent mark from 3-point range.
Jae Crowder is the only other player on the roster averaging double-figure scoring with 17.1 points per game, and he leads the team with 7.7 rebounds as well.
Between Johnson-Odom and Crowder, the two have connected on 115 of Marquette's 166 3-pointers this season.
The Mountaineers have struggled as of late from distance. In its previous four games, West Virginia is just 12-of-60.
West Virginia senior Kevin Jones will most likely be the key to West Virginia's success. But Jones, who leads the team averaging 20.3 points and 11.2 rebounds, hasn't scored 20 points in two games.
The last time he failed to score 20 points in back-to-back games was over a three-game stretch between Dec. 28 and Jan. 4.
"He's been phenomenal. We have three returning guys and eight freshmen and obviously we don't pass the ball very well and we certainly have had times where we forget who Kevin is, I think," Huggins said. "He's been great. He has such a great attitude, and he doesn't force things, he doesn't try to do things he can't do."
The Mountaineers are just 6-5 when Jones fails to score 20 points in a game. They're 11-6 when he does.
"He's been our one constant throughout – he's been our only constant," Huggins said. "I don't think he's getting the notoriety nationally that he ought to get because he's not a high-flyer, he just does his job every day and at the end of the day, he's going to get his 20 and 11 and does it on an incredibly consistent basis and we've played a heck of a schedule."
Senior Truck Bryant has started to get back on track after his scoreless performance against Notre Dame Feb. 8. He's scored 38 points in the last three games, although he is still shooting just 25.6 percent from the field, including a 3-of-17 mark from 3-point range.