West Virginia to fight for second place in Big East play as it takes on Cincinnati
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012
Updated: Friday, January 20, 2012 01:01
West Virginia will be battling for second place in the Big East Conference when it welcomes Cincinnati to the Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
The Bearcats (15-4, 5-1 Big East) have won three straight games including wins against ranked Georgetown and Connecticut teams.
A win by either team would put them trailing behind No. 1 Syracuse for the conference lead.
"It means a lot – we're trying to win our league," said senior guard Truck Bryant. "We have to get back to the drawing board and get ready for Cincinnati."
West Virginia 14-5, 4-2 Big East) is fresh off of a 78-62 win over in-state rival Marshall, which took place Wednesday night in the Capital Classic.
The Mountaineers have won four out of five games, with its only loss coming to Connecticut Jan. 9.
The Bearcats have been hot since their brawl resulting in numerous suspensions against then-No. 8 Xavier back on Dec. 10 going 10-1.
"They've gone on a pretty good roll since the suspensions," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins.
Sophomore guard Sean Kilpatrick leads Cincinnati with 16.2 points per game along with 4.7 rebounds.
Bearcats senior Yancy Gates, who missed six games because of a suspension following the Xavier game, leads the team with 9.8 rebounds and is averaging 12.4 points.
Fellow senior Dion Dixon has stepped up in his senior year scoring 13.9 points.
West Virginia will have to rely a lot on senior Kevin Jones. Jones is leading not just the Mountaineers, but the entire Big East with 20.4 points and 11.4 rebounds.
The senior scored 25 points against Marshall.
"I didn't do it alone," Jones said. "It's just a total-team effort."
That same total-team effort might be needed against Cincinnati on Saturday, too, as West Virginia will most likely be without starting center Deniz Kilicli.
Kilicli was injured in practice Monday and was
sitting on the bench in sweats against Marshall.
Huggins said he didn't know if Kilicli would be
available against the Bearcats, but it sounded doubtful.
If the Turkey native can't go, redshirt freshman Kevin Noreen will be called upon to fill his spot.
Redshirt freshman Kevin Noreen started the first game of his West Virginia career against Marshall and
He had six points and five rebounds in 29 minutes – the most minutes he's played since coming to college.
"He gives us some things Deniz (Kilicli) doesn't give us," Huggins said. "Kevin passes the ball and keeps the ball moving for us."
Tip-off for Saturday's game is scheduled for 3 p.m.