Know Your Opponent- West Virginia

It's the game every Cincinnatian first looked for as soon as this season's Big East Schedule was first announced. Thursday night former UC head coach Bob Huggins will make his first trip back to The Shoe as an opposing head coach. Everybody knows that. Here's everything else you need to know about the West Virginia University Mountaineers.

West Virginia currently holds a 19-8 overall record, with an 8-6 mark in Big East play. The Mountaineers crept as high No. 25 in the AP poll and No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today poll in the eight week of the season, but back-to-back losses at home to Connecticut and on the road at Marquette knocked WVU from the rankings and they've been fighting to get back in ever since. After suffering their only other pair of back-to-back losses this season, West Virginia has won four of their last five games by an average of more than 19 points per game. The Mountaineers haven't lost since a Feb. 9 trip to Pittsburgh where the then-No. 4 Panthers topped them by 11.

This young WVU team is led by a pair of upperclassmen. Junior forward Da'Sean Butler leads the Mountaineers with 18.1 points per game. The 6-foot-7 New Jersey Native pulls down 5.7 rebounds per game and leads the West Virginia shooters with a 38.5 percent rate of success from beyond the arc. In WVU's home upset over then-No. 13 Villanova on Feb. 13, Butler exploded for a career-high 43 points against the Wildcats.

Senior guard Alex Ruoff anchors the Mountaineer backcourt, as he averages 16.1 points, a team-high 1.9 steals, and 3.6 assists per game, giving him a 1.8-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Both Butler and Ruoff play more than 32 minutes per game. They are the only Mountaineers to average 10 or more points per game. A member of the pair has not scored in double figures in games they have played in this season a combined five times, and the Mountaineers are still 3-2 in those games.

That's in part because of freshmen Darryl Bryant and Devin Ebanks, who average 9.6 and 9.3 points per game, respectively. Ebanks also leads the West Virginia team with 6.9 rebounds per game, and both average more than two assists each night out.

But the Mountaineers can get it done defensively, too. They rank 36 nationally in scoring defense, holding teams to 61.4 points per game. WVU will be out to stop Deonta Vaughn, Alvin Mitchell, and the rest of the Bearcat sharpshooters, as they rank second nationally in three-point field goal percentage defense, forcing their opponents to shoot just 27.3 percent from long range.

Cincinnati has won three of the last four meetings against West Virginia and nine of the 15 lifetime match ups. The Bearcats won by their largest margin in the series last season when they won by 24 in Morgantown. It was WVU who shot poorly from three that night, as they shot a lowly 4.5 percent from three-point land (1-of-22). Ruoff and Butler combined for just 10 points in the Mountaineer's 62-39 loss, and coach Huggins didn't score any points with his bold fashion statement. The trio will be surely looking for revenge when the Mountaineers face off with the Bearcats at 7 p.m. Thursday in Fifth Third Arena.

Inside The Bearcats Top Stories