Big East Report

<b>RUTGERS</b><br><br> The Scarlet Knights were staring 0-3 in the face. A road loss to Georgetown, an excruciating one-point loss to No. 1 UConn ... and now, after coming back from 10 down with less than 10 minutes to play, facing a 64-62 deficit at home against Providence with the final fractions of a second ticking away.<br><br> And then ... Herve Lamizana saved the season.

Or at least, saved the team from its third close conference loss in a row.

Lamizana knocked down a fadeaway three-pointer with less than a second remaining, and the Scarlet Knights stunned the Friars 65-64.

It was the second time the senior forward has won a game for Rutgers in the final minute -- he banked in a three to beat Syracuse last year -- and it couldn't have come at a more critical time. An 0-3 start with two home losses would have been a huge hole to crawl out of if the team hopes to contend for a postseason berth, but the escape leaves Rutgers with a huge momentum boost heading into a difficult week.

Ironically, Lamizana almost wasn't in the game for the stretch run. He picked up his fourth foul at the 9:39 mark, and was just a reach-in away from being forced to sit for good.

Senior guard Ricky Shields also deserves a lot of credit for the victory over Providence. He finished with 14 points, and kept shooting despite a 1-for-7 performance in the first half.

The victory marked the seventh time in Gary Waters' three years that Rutgers has beaten a ranked opponent.

Rutgers will be playing Monmouth on Jan. 13, then will go to Pittsburgh on Jan. 17. They can't afford a letdown against Monmouth, and will have to avoid the temptation to look ahead to the Pittsburgh game. In order to knock off another ranked foe, the Scarlet Knights can't afford any scoring lulls like they had against the Friars, and will need to do a better job playing defense on the inside without fouling.

Scarlet Knights Notes

Quote to Note
"I saw the rotation, and it was perfect, and I just remembering saying to myself, 'Oh yeah.' That's when I knew it was sweet." -- Rutgers forward Herve Lamizana on his buzzer-beater, in the Newark Star-Ledger.


This is a critical stretch for the Eagles. While it's early to look ahead to a possible NCAA Tournament berth, Boston College might look back on mid-January as the time when its fate was decided.

At 11-3, 1-1 in the conference, Boston College is in the middle of the conference pack in all respects. UConn, Pittsburgh and Syracuse look like the teams to beat, and Notre Dame appears to have rebounded from its slow start to regain its status as a likely NCAA team.

That leaves the Eagles, along with teams like Seton Hall, Providence, West Virginia, Georgetown and Villanova, fighting for position. With last year's Selection Sunday heartbreak still fresh in the team's mind, it knows that it needs to be the leader of that pack by the time the Big East tournament rolls around.

The Eagles' next three games are all at home, against Villanova, Seton Hall and the ACC's N.C. State. The first two games are key for position in the league standings, while the latter poses an opportunity to get a nice win against a good non-conference foe.

What killed the Eagles against Syracuse were stretches where they seemed to relax on both ends of the court, and failed to focus on the hot shooters on defense or get a good shot on offense. Neither Villanova, whom they'll face Jan. 14, nor Seton Hall, on Jan. 17, has a shooter as lethal as Gerry McNamara, but BC coach Al Skinner will be sure and stress the importance of a complete effort this week.

Eagles Notes

  • Craig Smith paced the Eagles' attack against Syracuse, with 27 points and nine rebounds. Coach Al Skinner was unhappy that as aggressive as Smith was, he shot only four free throws. But that may have been a blessing in disguise, as only one attempt from the stripe went in.
  • The Eagles weren't helped by the weather on Saturday, Jan. 10. Boston College was scheduled to fly to Syracuse on Friday afternoon, but weather-related mechanical problems forced the flight's cancellation. The team bused to the game instead.
  • Freshmen Sean Marshall and Jared Dudley continue to make the adjustment to college seem like a breeze. Each scored 15 against the Orangemen.
  • In addition to his offensive exploits, Craig Smith has six blocked shots over his past two games.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Louis Hinnant, guard Sean Marshall, forward Jared Dudley, forward Craig Smith, forward Uka Agabai.

Quote to Note
"Things just didn't go our way. That was kind of tough." -- Eagles forward Craig Smith, on the Syracuse loss, in the Boston Globe.


Well, that was easy enough.

Undefeated No. 7 Oklahoma came to Connecticut over the weekend and many thought it would be a tough test for the Huskies -- particularly given their narrow escape against Rutgers in the previous game.

Instead, the game showed how good the Huskies can be -- a scary thought for the rest of the Big East, given Oklahoma's lofty reputation and ranking. Connecticut dominated every phase of the game, after trailing 7-5 early. Just like that, the Huskies went on a 29-5 run, a shock-and-awe exhibition that left Sooner coach Kelvin Sampson stunned.

"Connecticut was just shoving it down our throats ... and we were missing shots. They got a little confidence. For a while there we were doing a decent job, but then it started getting away from us," Sampson said.

About the only bad thing for UConn: Emeka Okafor finished one block shy of his second career triple-double.

No team in the nation is better when they're on their game, as the Huskies proved against Oklahoma. But this is the same team that went down to the wire against Rutgers on the road, so it's not a team that can win just by rolling out the basketballs. It will be interesting to see if the team's level of effort against the Hoyas, on Jan. 14, is the same as it was this weekend, since 40 minutes of focused basketball hasn't always been a characteristic of the team this season. After Georgetown, the Huskies will face North Carolina on Jan. 17.

Huskies Notes

  • One downside for the Huskies against Oklahoma: They committed 20 turnovers. Josh Boone had five in 18 minutes.
  • Emeka Okafor went off for 21 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks against Rutgers. Not surprisingly, he was named Big East Player of the Week.
  • Charlie Villanueva reached double figures for the seventh time in eight career games.
  • Probable lineup: Point guard Taliek Brown, shooting guard Ben Gordon, center Emeka Okafor, small forward Denham Brown, power forward Josh Boone.

Quote to Note
"One of the officials just said to me that is as good a defense that he's seen all year, and I would concur. It's far and away the best defense we've played. ... That's as close to a 40-minute performance, and as good, at this point in the season, as we can play." -- Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, on his team's performance against Oklahoma.


Georgetown began the season with 10 wins in a row, but aside from a victory over Boston College in its Big East opener, it didn't beat anyone worth writing home about.

The Hoyas hit everything except the net on Saturday, and squandered an opportunity to beat a conference rival playing shorthanded.

Georgetown made just 31 percent of its shots against West Virginia, and even that number was inflated by some put-backs late in the second half. Even the Hoyas' trademarked defensive efforts weren't enough to overcome that, combined with 20 Georgetown turnovers, and the team fell 62-58.

It doesn't get any easier for the Hoyas, who travel to top-ranked Connecticut on Wednesday.

Georgetown's defense might give the Huskies problems, but Jim Calhoun has been coaching against it forever. Unless coach Craig Esherick comes up with some new wrinkles, Georgetown's defensive game plan won't have much that UConn hasn't seen before -- particularly after the Huskies eviscerated Oklahoma over the weekend. To win, Georgetown will need to knock down shots from the outside, and get baskets out of transition. They'll also need to get physical with Huskies center Emeka Okafor, who has battled back problems all season.

Hoyas Notes

  • West Virginia played a 1-3-1 zone, and the Hoyas seemed to have a tough time finding a good shot. The defense led to a series of scoreless stretches for Georgetown -- including the first 4:25 of the game.
  • In the first half, the Hoyas attempted 30 shots. Seven went in the basket. Eight were blocked.
  • Georgetown made 8 of its 12 free throw attempts. WVU, however, had 40 shots from the charity stripe, and made 28.
  • As evidenced by WVU's 40 free throws, nearly every Hoya who played was in foul trouble. Courtland Freeman and Matt Causey fouled out, while Ashanti Cook, Brandon Bowman, Gerald Riley and Darrel Owens each finished with four.
  • Brandon Bowman was the offensive star for Georgetown, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds against West Virginia.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Ashanti Cook, guard Gerald Riley, forward Darrel Owens, forward Brandon Bowman, forward Courtland Freeman.

Quote to Note
"Their defense forced us to take shots out of rhythm. I still think we have a good shooting team. We have to go back to the drawing board and learn from this game. There are no more off days." -- Georgetown coach Craig Esherick, in The Washington Post.


Miami enters the soft underbelly of its schedule Wednesday against St. John's. With the following two games against Virginia Tech and Rutgers, the Hurricanes get three early Big East contests against teams that could be battling with the 'Canes for the bottom of the league.

Or the Hurricanes may be able to surprise everyone, and make a bigger impact on the standings in their final Big East season.

Certainly, the Hurricanes' record isn't what coach Perry Clark was hoping for, and Miami looked atrocious while being blown out by North Carolina. But Miami then went out and nearly shocked Pittsburgh, falling at home in double overtime. If that's the team that shows up this week, the Hurricanes could return home with a pair of road scalps and some serious momentum.

Of course, Miami has yet to win away from home this year. But with freshman Guillermo Diaz joining Darius Rice and Robert Hite as scoring threats, at least the Hurricanes are more than a one-man team.

Both St. John's (Jan. 14) and Virginia Tech (Jan. 17) will key on Darius Rice and the shooters, so any dribble penetration from Guillermo Diaz would be helpful. The Miami big men need to stay out of foul trouble, as there's not much depth down low.

Hurricanes Notes

  • Darius Rice's 22 point against Pittsburgh marked the 31st time in his college career that he's scored more than 20 points in a game.
  • Miami has five losses, but only the North Carolina loss was a blowout. Really, this team is a few breaks away from being 13-2 and one of the league's biggest surprises.
  • Will Frisby is still suspended, a loss that had a major impact in the Pittsburgh game when Mohammad Djahue and Gary Hamilton fouled out in overtime. No word on his return.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Rob Hite, guard Guillermo Diaz, guard Armondo Surratt, center Rodrigue Djahue, forward Darius Rice.

Quote to Note
"We are going to go to St. John's with the attitude that we are upset because we had the No. 15-ranked team on the ropes, and nobody has come close to beating them like we have. And we just got to keep the intensity that we had and come back and win. I think it built our confidence more than killed it because they know what we had and they know how good we are.'' -- Miami's Darius Rice after the loss to Pitt, in the Miami Herald.


It's amazing what one week and a pair of conference games can do to redeem two months of disappointment.

Four consecutive wins to end the pre-conference stretch didn't answer as many questions as coach Mike Brey had hoped, particularly given the team's fall from a Top 25 ranking to a 6-3 start. Lineup shifts and exhortations were both tried, with some success.

But a week into the Big East schedule, Notre Dame finds itself tied for first with a 2-0 record. It's beaten West Virginia and Villanova, two teams with NCAA Tournament dreams, and established itself as a team to watch in the conference race. The Villanova game was particularly impressive, as the Irish came back from a 70-64 deficit with four minutes left on the road.

Now, however, comes a step up in class.

After losing a close game at Pittsburgh, a home date with defending champion Syracuse on Jan. 17 will give fans a chance to see if the Irish can kick their game up a notch, enough to beat some of the nation's elite teams.

Notre Dame is a veteran team that has had success leveraging its experience against the younger teams in the conference. That won't be possible against the experience of Syracuse, so it will come down to if the Irish's on-court leaders are able to outclass their opponent. In particular, both Chris Thomas and Torin Francis will have difficult matchups on the defensive end against Syracuse, and neither can afford to either slack off or get in foul trouble on defense.

Irish Notes

  • It's tough to ask for a more balanced attack than the one Notre Dame put on display at Villanova. Five finished in double figures, led by Chris Thomas' 26.
  • For seven games in a row, through the Pitt contest, Notre Dame has finished with more assists than turnovers.
  • John Carlson, a freshman tight end on the football team, has joined the hoops squad. He was on the bench Jan. 10, but did not get in the game. He did not play against Pitt two days later as the rotation went only seven deep.
  • Tom Timmermans played his best game of the season against Villanova, finishing with seven points and two rebounds in his 19 minutes.
  • Chris Quinn's anti-turnover streak ended against the Wildcats. He gave the ball away for the first time in six games. He had one turnover in 36 minutes against Pitt, not bad at all considering the way the Panthers play defense.
  • Chris Thomas scored 29 points in the 74-71 loss at Pitt.
  • Probable lineup: Point guard Chris Thomas, shooting guard Colin Falls, guard Torrian Jones, power forward Torin Francis, small forward Jordan Cornette.

Quote to Note
"We're pretty resilient. Our experienced guys made some big plays. We're a little older. I think that showed." -- Mike Brey, in the South Bend Tribune, on his veterans' efforts in the victory over Villanova.


It was an excruciating week for the Friars, who suffered a pair of the most gut-wrenching losses imaginable.

Not only did Providence lose a pair of buzzer-beaters -- vs. Texas and Rutgers -- it's going to have nightmares about the latter defeat for a long time.

Providence was beating the Scarlet Knights by 10 midway through the second half, and still led by five with 10 seconds remaining. OK, so Herve Lamizana banked in a three-pointer -- there was no word on whether he called it in the air -- but the Friars still led 64-62 with 75 percent free throw shooter Donnie McGrath on the line.

But McGrath missed both shots, Lamizana threw in a fadeaway three with less than a second left, and the Friars start the Big East slate with an 0-1 mark.

Looking for good news? They outlasted Seton Hall on Monday night by surviving three last-second shots to even their Big East record at 1-1. Sometimes, things have a way of evening out.

While Friar fans would love an easy victory against West Virginia on Jan. 17, it might be better for the team to be tested down the stretch and emerge with the victory, building on the 63-60 survival against Seton Hall on Jan. 12. The Friars are dangerous even without Rob Sanders, but Tim Welsh will need to work to keep his team from wondering if they're just snakebit this season.

Friars Notes

  • Last week's two losses overshadowed two more monster performances from Ryan Gomes. He finished with 28 points against Texas, and 27 against the Scarlet Knights.
  • Marcus Douthit got his first double-double of the season against Rutgers, finishing with 16 points and 11 boards.
  • Rob Sanders hasn't played in the team's past two games because of an injury. There's no word on when the team's second-leading scorer will return.
  • Abdul Mills is also ailing again, and did not play against Texas.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Donnie McGrath, guard Sheiku Kabba, center Marcus Douthit, forward Ryan Gomes, forward Tuukka Kotti.

Quote to Note
"Once again it wasn't in the stars for us tonight. It's tough when it happens to you like that in five days. It can shake you up losing those games, but you have to stay stable and keep the guys confident." -- Providence coach Tim Welch, on his team's run of bad luck, to the Providence Journal.


Despite beginning the season with an 11-2 record, the Pirates failed to attracted national attention, unable to crack either major Top 25 poll. And respect won't come any easier after an eight-game winning streak was stopped with a 63-60 loss to Providence on Jan. 12.

Three potential game-tying three-pointers all missed in the final eight seconds.

Louis Orr's squad has done its damage under the radar, but, even with the loss to Providence, has plenty of time to serve notice that it's ready to separate itself from the middle of the Big East pack.

The Pirates didn't have a lot of pretty plays in beating woeful St. John's on the road Jan. 10. But they won to go 1-0 in the Big East, with the most encouraging sign being the balanced Pirates attack. Four players finished in double figures, and the team won without getting much from starters John Allen (4 points) and Andre Sweet (9 points). For the season, five Pirates average double figures in points per game.

If the Pirates can play well defensively on Jan. 17 at Boston College -- especially on the glass -- they'll be tough to beat. But Louis Orr certainly hopes that the nine assists his team had against St. John's will be the lowest amount all season.

Pirates Notes

  • The Pirates had their eight-game winning streak broken Jan. 12 by Providence.
  • Revenge Tour 2003-04 is off to a fine start. The Pirates are 5-1 against teams that beat them the last time the teams met. Only Louisville managed to extend its winning streak over the Pirates.
  • Marcus Toney-El and John Allen are both expected to play despite nagging injuries. Tony-El has a strained Achilles' tendon, while Allen has a sore knee.
  • Donald Copeland is back, and played nine minutes against St. John's. He was in for three minutes against Providence.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Andre Barrett, guard John Allen, center Kelly Whitney, forward Marcus Toney-El, forward Andre Sweet.

Quote to Note
"We didn't play our best ball today, but we were able to win the game. That's all that counts. It shows how much more mature the team is from a year ago. Last year, we needed to play our best game every time out in order to have a chance to win." -- Andre Sweet, in the Newark Star-Ledger, after the win over St. John's.


At 4-8 overall, 0-2 in the Big East, and on its second coach of the season, reality has to be setting in for this senior-dominated St. John's squad.

Forget the Big Dance. Heck, forget the little dance, since earning an NIT bid requires a .500 record. The Red Storm will need to battle to avoid the embarrassment of missing the 12-team Big East Tournament that's held on its home court.

Even with that as the goal, there's no indication of whether this team is capable of being one of the top 12 teams in this 14-team league. The Red Storm looked fine against Syracuse, and were within five points on the road with three minutes to play. But Saturday, it was blown out on its home court by Seton Hall.

One thing in this team's favor is its experience. Seniors like Grady Reynolds, Mohammad Diakite and Kyle Cuffe aren't playing for next year, and likely aren't playing for many NBA scouts either. Their last game in March will end their college careers, and all hope to at least play beyond the March 6 regular-season finale against Notre Dame.

St. John's will need to be physical with Darius Rice and step out on the dangerous Miami shooters when they face them on Jan. 14. With three straight road games following their home date with the Hurricanes, a victory in that game is critical. St. John's will have to be much better on the glass against both Miami, and then Villanova (on Jan. 18) -- indeed, against everyone else in the Big East -- if it hopes to stay in the game.

Red Storm Notes

  • One bad sign for the Red Storm was its performance down the stretch against the Pirates. Seton Hall led by only eight, 49-41, before closing with a 15-6 run. It looked like St. John's just ran out of gas.
  • Meet the new coach, same as the old coach: Kevin Clark is 2-4 since taking over as interim coach from Mike Jarvis, who also went 2-4.
  • Lamont Hamilton helped give Red Storm fans hope for the future, as the freshman center scored 14 off the bench against the Pirates.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Elijah Ingram, guard Darryl Hill, center Abe Keita, forward Grady Reynolds, forward Kyle Cuffe.

Quote to Note
"You get beat on a few plays and your energy level is not the same for a couple of minutes. We had to talk about fighting to the end, fighting all the way through and showing the character of St. John's." -- Red Storm coach Kevin Clark, in the New York Post, on his team's effort against Seton Hall.


The Syracuse train keeps rolling along ... a 12-1 start, two Big East victories, and offensive weapons in the paint and on the perimeter.

And the Orangemen finally took their show on the road.

The Orangemen face their first road trip of the season this week, starting Monday with an 82-68 win at Missouri. Or, if you prefer, it was the Orangemen's first true road game of the season (they played St. Bonaventure in Rochester as a neutral site game), and then two more. Either way, they left the friendly confines of upstate New York for the first time all season.

"It's always difficult going on the road," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We have a long way to go. Going on the road will help us find out if we're a good team."

So far, so good. Syracuse was neither rattled by the crowd or a talented Missouri team.

"We were intense from the beginning," said center Craig Forth, who scored a career-high 18 points. "I think we really fed off the crowd."

After dominating Missouri on the road Jan. 12, the Orangemen get another taste of a difficult road trip when the play at Notre Dame on Jan. 17. In particular, Jeremy McNeil will likely need to come up big on the defensive end against the Irish's Torin Francis.

Orangemen Notes

  • Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara and Billy Edelin provided the offense against Boston College, as they often do. McNamara led the way with 26 points, while Warrick added 19 and Edelin 17.
  • Syracuse went on a 21-0 run against the Eagles, and led by 20 at the half. Jim Boeheim couldn't have been happy at the lack of focus that helped B.C. cut the lead to six points in the second half.
  • McNeil was strong off the bench against the Eagles, finishing with 7 points and 7 rebounds. It was his best performance of the season. However, he fouled out in nine minutes vs. Missouri.
  • Louie McCroskey, who some thought would redshirt, hasn't really been looking for his shot off the bench. He had taken just one shot apiece in each of the last three games before the Missouri game, in which he was 1-for-4.
  • Coach Jim Boeheim is 665-227 in 28 seasons at Syracuse and moved one ahead of John Wooden for 19th on the Division I career victory list.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Gerry McNamara, guard Billy Edelin, center Craig Forth, forward Hakim Warrick, forward Josh Pace.

Quote to Note
"If I threw up a hook shot from halfcourt, it was going in. That's how I felt." -- Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara, who scored 13 of his 26 points in a 3:21 span against Boston College, as quoted in the Boston Globe.


Getting ahead in a major conference like the Big East is a matter of taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.

The Wildcats squandered a big one this weekend.

Villanova has some veterans, but it's becoming more obvious as time ticks on that its success this season will depend in large part on its underclassmen getting their feet wet in a hurry. The Notre Dame game was the first time that inexperience appeared to cost them.

'Nova led by six with four minutes left, but couldn't close out Notre Dame. Freshman Mike Nardi -- a 70 percent free throw shooter -- missed a pair at the line. Sophomore Curtis Sumpter could make only one of two.

Notre Dame executed on the offensive end, and the result was an 82-78 loss for Villanova. The Wildcats now limp into the week coming off of three losses in a row (dropping nonconference tilts to Kansas and Memphis), and need to regroup in a hurry for a tough, but winnable, away match with Boston College on Jan. 14.

Their Jan. 18 date with St. John's is another story -- they'll be facing a team going nowhere, but with enough talent to be dangerous if taken lightly. An 0-2 stretch this week would be disastrous for Villanova.

Wildcats Notes

  • Villanova scored 18 points in the second half against Notre Dame on layups and dunks.
  • The sophomores have really stepped up the scoring punch this season. Allan Ray and Randy Foye each scored 18 against the Irish. With the youth on this squad, Villanova is a team that can be dangerous for years to come.
  • Derrick Snowden, recovering from offseason knee surgery, played 13 minutes against the Irish and 20 against Memphis. He's the first guard off the bench in the 'Nova rotation.
  • Jason Fraser had a career-high 17 rebounds in the Notre Dame game.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Randy Foye, guard Mike Nardi, guard Allan Ray, forward Curtis Sumpter, forward Jason Fraser.

Quote to Note
"You have to give Notre Dame credit for hanging in there when we had a chance to put them away. They made plays. We just have to get better as a basketball team. I believe in this team." -- Villanova coach Jay Wright, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.


If Seth Greenberg and his Virginia Tech Hokies are poised to make some noise in the Big East, this will be the week to strut their stuff.

The Hokies opened the Big East season with a 19-point loss at undefeated Pittsburgh -- a game that was closer than the final score indicated. No disgrace in that.

Next up for the Hokies: a road date at West Virginia, on Jan. 14 home game against Miami, on Jan. 17. Both games are tough, but both are winnable. The Mountaineers will be without offensive threat Drew Schifino, who was dismissed from the team Monday, and the Hurricanes are a bottom-half team.

It's tough to say that either or both games are must-wins in January, but it takes just a glance at the schedule to see that these games are an oasis in a sea of difficult games. Next week, the Hokies get Notre Dame and a road game at Seton Hall. The following week is No. 1 UConn and defending-champion Syracuse.

Hokies Notes

  • If the Hokies are going to beat anyone in the Big East, they're going to have to start valuing the basketball. Virginia Tech turned it over 26 times against Pittsburgh, with Bryant Matthews giving it away nine times.
  • It's not a broken record: Bryant Matthews was again stellar in defeat. He finished with 22 points against the Panthers.
  • Coleman Collins was again impressive, and the freshman appears to be having little trouble adapting his offensive game to the college ranks. He finished with 17 against Pitt.
  • Bryan Randall is back in a Hokie uniform. The football quarterback has joined the basketball team, and made his debut against Pittsburgh.
  • However, the Hokies suffered a key injury when Jamon Gordon tore the meniscus in his right knee. Early indications are that he will miss 8-10 weeks.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Zabian Dowdell, guard Markus Sailes, center Coleman Collins, forward Bryant Matthews, forward Allen Calloway.

Quote to Note
"Our main concern right now is for him to get healthy and we will not bring him back until he is healthy. We have to look at the big picture and the big picture is Jamon Gordon playing a major role in the future of our basketball program." -- Hokies coach Seth Greenberg, on Gordon's knee injury.


The Mountaineers were facing an early pothole in the Big East schedule following its 63-52 defeat at the hands of Notre Dame in the league opener. And now West Virginia has a huge hole in its lineup.

Drew Schifino, a 6-3 junior guard who was the team's leading scorer with 17.6 points per game, was suspended before the Georgetown game for a "violation of team rules." And then on Monday, coach John Beilein dismissed Schifino, closing the door on his return to West Virginia.

With Schifino gone, the Mountaineers will need to find an offense in a hurry.

They survived their first game without him, beating Georgetown 62-58 on Jan. 10, an impressive win considering West Virginia had lost eight in a row to the Hoyas.

Tyrone Sally -- who hadn't been able to find the basket with a map and compass over the last couple of weeks -- took over Schifino's small forward slot and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. The rest of the team managed enough offense to hold off the Hoyas.

The Mountaineers showed against Georgetown that they can win without Drew Schifino against a team that doesn't put up many points. Virginia Tech, whom they face Jan. 14, falls into that category as well, but Providence (Jan. 17) clearly does not. If West Virginia puts up another 2-for-16 performance from beyond the arc against either team, it's in big trouble.

Mountaineers Notes

  • Both coaches gave credit to the West Virginia defense for the Jan. 10 win over Georgetown. The Mountaineers ran a 1-3-1 zone that was innovative enough to stymie the Hoyas. Georgetown shot 31 percent for the game, making 22 of 71 attempts.
  • West Virginia beat Georgetown despite shooting 2-16 from three-point range. A big reason for that was the free throw disparity between the two teams -- the Mountaineers made 28 of their 40 attempts, while the Hoyas were 8-12.
  • Leading scorer Drew Schifino has been dismissed from the team for a "violation of team rules."
  • Patrick Beilein shoots free throws like you'd expect a coach's son to. He was 8-8 against Georgetown and hasn't missed in 25 attempts this season.
  • Probable lineup: Guard Jarmon Durisseau-Collins, guard Johannes Herber, center D'or Fischer, forward Jerrah Young, forward Tyrone Salley.

Quote to Note
"If you'd tell me we'd make just 2 of 16 from three, have 21 turnovers and 7 assists and still win the game I'd say it's not going to happen very often. There was unbelievable effort on both sides to contest every pass, to bother every dribbler and to play at 100 percent on every single possession." -- West Virginia coach John Beilein, on the effort against the Hoyas.


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