DePaul Blue Demons vs. WVU Mountaineers - Wednesday, February 27th, 8:00 p.m. (Central) – Allstate Arena
Television – ESPN2
Radio – WIND AM 560
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He's back. The coach that DePaul fans love to hate – West Virginia's Bob Huggins. Whether it was at Cincinnati, Kansas State or now West Virginia, Huggins' teams have always presented a challenge for the Blue Demons.
The last time we saw Huggins, his first and last season at Kansas State had just ended at the hands of the Blue Demons. DePaul escaped Manhattan, Kansas with a 70-65 win in the second round of the NIT last March.
Shortly after that loss, Huggins returned to his alma mater to take over the Mountaineer Hoops program. Huggins has led West Virginia to a 19-8 overall, 8-6 Big East record in his first season in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers are coming off of a 80-53 win over Providence in Morgantown on Saturday. WVU was led by junior forward Joe Alexander's 21 points in the victory. Junior forward Alex Ruoff scored 14, sophomore forward Da'Sean Butler had 13 and sophomore forward Wellington Smith contributed 10 points off the bench.
What stood out for WVU was their pressure defense that managed to score 27 points off of turnovers. If DePaul can't handle the ball against the press like they did against Louisville last month, the Blue Demons are going to be in for a very long night.
Huggins has taken a team that has returned most of John Beilein's players and turned them into a defensive dynamo. "He transformed them into a physical, man-to-man, rebounding, pressure defense team that still has a very high skill level as Coach Beilein emphasized," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright told WSCR radio. "He's put his defensive imprint on a veteran team and made them one of the toughest defensive teams in our league."
While DePaul is fighting for a berth in the Big East tournament, West Virginia is aiming to get into the NCAA tournament. The Mountaineers, who won the NIT championship last season, want to avoid a repeat NIT appearance and get to the big dance.
"If there is such a thing as a must-win, the DePaul game is a must-win for us," Huggins said. "We've got to go in there and play well. I've got great respect for Jerry Wainwright. I think he's a heck of a coach and he does a great job with his team. They're physical, they're tough and they guard. It's going to be a tough game for us."
When you consider that the Blue Demons are dead last in the Big East in defensive field goal percentage (.458) one has to wonder just what Huggins is talking about. DePaul has been the league's worst team at defending the interior. At Seton Hall on Saturday, the Pirates scored at will from inside and outside against the Demons.
West Virginia is undefeated in Big East games in which they score 60 points or more. DePaul is surrendering an average of 74.5 points per game. Needless to say, that doesn't bode well for the Blue Demons. DePaul had better put up some semblance of a defense to have a chance in this one.
The Last Time
The Blue Demons lost in Morgantown, WV on January 28, 2007 by a score of 64-52. Joe Alexander led all scorers with 23 points. Alex Ruoff contributed with 12 points and seven assists for the Mountaineers. DePaul was led by 11 points from sophomore forward Wilson Chandler and 10 from senior guard Sammy Mejia.
West Virginia Roster
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
11 Joe Alexander F 6-8 230 Jr. Mt. Airy, Md.
31 Jarrett Brown G 6-4 220 So. West Palm Beach, Fla.
1 Da'Sean Butler F 6-7 225 So. Newark, N.J.
41 John Flowers F 6-7 195 Fr. Waldorf, Md.
3 Joe Mazzulla G 6-2 210 So. Johnston, R.I.
14 Darris Nichols G 6-3 200 Sr. Radford, Va.
25 Cameron Payne G 6-4 200 Fr. Charleston, W.Va.
22 Alex Ruoff F 6-6 215 Jr. Spring Hill, Fla.
43 Jamie Smalligan C 7-0 265 Sr. E. Grand Rapids, Mich.
35 Wellington Smith F 6-7 215 So. Summit, N.J.
21 Josh Sowards F 6-7 205 So. Scott Depot, W.Va.
32 Ted Talkington G 6-2 200 Jr. New Martinsville, W.Va.
24 Will Thomas G 6-5 205 Fr. East Cleveland, Ohio
2 Cam Thoroughman F 6-7 215 Fr. Portsmouth, Ohio
4 Jonnie West G 6-3 175 Fr. Memphis, Tenn.
DePaul vs. West Virginia Game Preview
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