West Virginia will look to get back to .500 Wednesday night when it goes to Charleston to play Marshall in the Capital Classic.
The Mountaineers have faced a tough schedule so far and have suffered three early-season losses because of it. They'll look to get their third win against the Thundering Herd, who they've defeated in five of the last six games.
Marshall should make that difficult, though. The Herd comes into the game at 5-3, and on a three-game winning streak. The team is led by DeAndre Kane. He's averaging 16 points and 8.4 assists per game. Last season in this game, he led all Marshall scorers with 19.
That game ended in a 78-62 win for West Virginia, but that team had Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant. The Mountaineers are trying to replace those two seniors this season, and that has proven to be difficult so far.
The team is led in scoring by two transfers, Juwan Staten (10.8) and Aaric Murray (10.2). Scoring has been an issue at times for this team, though. The Mountaineers are averaging 72.2 points per game, but are shooting just above 41 percent from the field. In the two wins, WVU is averaging 90.5 points. In the three losses, that figure drops to 60 points per game.
The Mountaineers have been utilizing a lot of young talent, as five players that are either freshmen or sophomores are earning more than 15 minutes per game. However, only two of those players are averaging more than nine points per game.
The offense did look promising in the last game against VMI. It certainly wasn't the strongest opponent West Virginia will face this year, but the team was able to put up 94 points. Staten led all scorers with 18 points, and seven Mountaineers scored in double figures.
They'll look to carry that offensive momentum into Wednesday's game, because Marshall is averaging close to 80 points. West Virginia's defense should be able to challenge the Herd more than most of the other defenses they've played so far this year, though.
Another issue facing the Mountaineers is foul trouble. Deniz Kilicli is one of the veterans on this relatively young team, yet he's spent too much time on the bench, particularly in the first half, with too many fouls. He has to be on the floor for Bob Huggins, because he and Murray create a distinct size advantage for West Virginia against many opponents.
On Wednesday, those two will have to deal with Marshall's two big men, Dennis Tinnon and Nigel Spikes. These two have helped the Herd rank 15th in the country in rebounds per game. Tinnon is also averaging 11.9 points per game. Two other Marshall players, Elijah Pittman and D.D. Scarver, also average in double digits.
This will be the 41st meeting between these two. The game has been played in Charleston as a neutral site since 1992. This will also be the first time the game has been played in December, rather than after the holidays, since 1996. West Virginia leads the overall series 29-11.
Wednesday night's game will tip at 7:30 pm and will be televised on the Capital Classic Network, as well as ESPN3.