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December 14, 2013

WVU to Meet Marshall in Capital Classic

Since Head Coach Bob Huggins returned to his Alma Mater, his Mountaineers have had tough games against in-state rival Marshall. Huggins is 5-1 against the Thundering Herd, but in those five wins, three of them have been decided by ten points or less.

Tonight at 7:30, West Virginia (6-4) will meet Marshall (4-5) inside the Charleston Civic Center once again.

"It's a hard game sometimes and since we're just played Gonzaga and are getting ready to play Purdue, I think it's hard for young guys to understand it," said Huggins, "I mean Marshall is good, they're talented."

Last year, WVU beat Marshall 69-59 behind 21 points from then-senior forward Deniz Kilicli. But in the final two minutes of the game a brief scuffle broke out after Marshall's Robert Goff kicked WVU guard Juwan Staten. Goff was ejected but so were four Mountaineers in Terry Henderson, Eron Harris along with soon to be transfers Jabarie Hinds and Aaric Murray.

This evening both the Mountaineers and Thundering Herd come into Capital Classic in need of a win. WVU has dropped two consecutive tough games, while Marshall has lost three straight games and hasn't won since they defeated Western Kentucky on November 26.

This evening Harris, Staten and Henderson return the court as the top three Mountaineer scorers. Harris ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring while averaging 19.2 points per game, while Staten and Henderson average 16.4 and 10.2 points per game respectively.

Staten also has done a great job as a facilitator leading the Big 12 in assists per game and ranking fifth nationally in assists to turnover ratio.

But even though WVU has gotten steady play out of those three, the feeling is that its role players must have bounce back performances. Against Gonzaga, big man, Devin Williams was 3 of 13 from the field, while Gary Browne was 1 of 6 and Nathan Adrian was 1 of 5. Starting forward Kevin Noreen had zero points.

Many of the young guys struggling have looked up to Staten to get them on track for tonight's game against Marshall.

"He (Staten) has really done a great job of trying to lead," said Huggins. "I think the young guys and everyone look to him."

For Marshall the high-low combination of Elijah Pittman and Kareem Canty account for most of the Herd scoring. Pittman is averaging 21.4 points per game while Canty scores 18.3 points per game. In last year's matchup Pittman registered 16 points against the Mountaineers.

"They're athletic, other than Missouri they're probably as athletic as anyone we've played. Canty is really good, he's really good," Huggins said. "And Pittman makes plays, I told our guys today you don't see plays that Pittman makes, there are NBA guys that don't make those plays."

Tonight marks the 42nd matchup on the hardwood for West Virginia and Marshall. WVU leads the all-time series 30-11.

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