Championship Preview: West Virginia

The Golden Gophers conclude their Puerto Rico Tip-off trip with a championship game showdown against West Virginia on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (Central) at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

Minnesota (4-0) vs. West Virginia (3-0)
San Juan, P.R. -- Coliseo de Puerto Rico
6:30 p.m. -- ESPN2 (Jon Sciambi, Hubert Davis)

Gophers Semifinal Game:

The Gophers upset No. 8 ranked UNC 72-67 in the semifinal game to advance to the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-off. Minnesota guard Blake Hoffarber scored a game-high 20 points and added four assists while forward Trevor Mbakwe just missed his fourth straight double-double posting 12 points and nine rebounds.

Minnesota took a 27-24 into halftime and the Tar Heels were never able to recover from the deficit. The first half of the game was plagued with turnovers with Minnesota committing 14 and the Tar Heels turning the ball over 11 times.

Minnesota came out strong in the second half and pushed the lead eight points with a little under 17 minutes to play but the Heels fought back to within one point only three minutes later. The Tar Heels kept the score close throughout the second half but they could never take the lead.

Like Mbakwe, forward Colton Iverson almost posted a double-double finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds in the win.

The Gophers pestered sensational freshman Harrison Barnes all night. Barnes, who scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds on Thursday against Hofstra, was held to just six points and 0-for-12 shooting from the floor.

Minnesota shot 41 percent from the field and 28 percent from three, while North Carolina finished the game shooting 36 percent as a team.


Quote to Note: "My concern is the way we got whipped on the glass in the second half and I was concerned they'd make one and miss one and we wouldn't rebound it." – West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins following Friday's victory against Vanderbilt.

Season to Date: West Virginia enters Sunday's contest with a 3-0 record. The Mountaineers crushed Oakland in their season opener (95-71). They won their first two games at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, knocking off Davidson (84-70) in the first round and sneaking by Vanderbilt (74-71) on Friday. The Mountaineers' Casey Mitchell hit a game-winning 3-pointer with the shot-clock expiring with three seconds left to play.

Coaching Legend: Head coach Bob Huggins, a WVU graduate, is in his fourth season at his alma mater, 29th overall. He has a career coaching record of 673-241. Huggins ranks fourth in total victories among active Division I head coaches. He has been named National Coach-of-the-Year five times in his career.

Backcourt Scoring: Junior guard Darryl Bryant and senior guard Casey Mitchell give the Mountaineers an explosive, high scoring backcourt duo. Bryant is averaging 15 points per game and scored 11 points last game. Mitchell scored a career-high 31 points to lead all scorers against Vanderbilt. He shot 9-for-15 from the floor and hit all six of West Virginia's 3-point baskets including the game-winner.

Random Fact: Bob Huggins is 6-0 all-time against the Gophers. All of the victories came when Huggins coached Cincinnati. Coach Tubby Smith is 1-0 in head-to-head matchup with Huggins.

Series History: Sunday marks the third meeting between the Gophers and Mountaineers with West Virginia winning both games. It will be the first meeting since the 1980 season. The two teams met during the 1996 season but the game has since been vacated.

Projected Starters:
5 Kevin Jones (6-8, 260, Jr.) – 10.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg
13 Deniz Kilicli (6-9, 270, So.) – 6.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg
41 John Flowers (6-7, 215, Sr.) – 10.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg
25 Darryl Bryant (6-2, 195, Jr.) – 15.0 ppg, 4.3 apg
3 Casey Mitchell (6-4, 220, Sr.) – 18.3. ppg, 2.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
21 Joe Mazzulla (6-2, 200, r-Sr.) – 8.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
32 Dalton Pepper (6-5, 230, So.) – 7.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg
4 Jonnie West (6-3, 195, r-Sr.) – 6.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg
30 Danny Jennings (6-8, 260, So.) – 3.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg

Location: Morgantown, W.V.
Enrollment: 29,306
Conference: Big East
Nickname: Mountaineers
Colors: Gold & Blue
Head Coach: Bob Huggins
Record at SC: 81-30
2009-10 Record: 31-7 (13-5)

West Virginia Info

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