MBB: Rutgers vs. West Virginia

Rutgers (10-14, 2-9) travels to West Virginia (16-7, 5-5) for a Big East matchup at the WVU Coliseum with game-time set for 7:00pm, Thursday, February 14. The Big East schedule is tough and stays tough all season long. Here's what West Virginia has to offer up as the next nemesis for the Knights.

West Virginia is yet another talented Big East basketball team, offering great athleticism, strength, and speed. They are led by Bob Huggins one of the best among active coaches in Division 1. He has spent 25 years as a collegiate head coach, posting a 590-211 (.737) record. This ranks him 6th in total victories and 8th in winning percentage. His teams have had 20 plus victories 21 times, have been to the post season 22 times including 15 NCAA appearances. Coach Huggins brought Cincinnati back to the national spotlight during his 16 seasons (1989-2005)in the wheelhouse, and last season, during a one year hiatus at Kansas State, he guided the Jayhawks to 23 victories, the most in 19 years.

Bob Huggins was introduced to his dream job as the head coach of the Mountaineers less than one year ago. You see, he was born, raised, and educated in Morgantown. He himself is a 2 year letterman for the WVU five, he brings his track record as a great program builder, recruiter and game strategist to his favorite school in the home town of his favorite state.

WVU has done quite well for themselves the last three seasons, reaching the Elite Eight in 2005, the Sweet Sixteen in 2006, and hail as the 2007 NIT Champions. Knowing that Rutgers has struggled against the press, the Mountaineers will provide plenty of full court pressure looking for the tough steal, while quickly falling back into a tightly packed zone, attempting to deny the Scarlet clear driving lanes to the basket. They prefer to allow Rutgers to beat them from the outside.

PROBABLE STARTERS:

G - 14 – Darris Nichols (6’3” 200sr) 12.2 ppg, 39% 3pt shooter

G - 22 – Alex Ruoff (6’6” 215jr) 14.1ppg, 44.2% 3pt shooter with 38 steals

F - 11 – Joe Alexander (6’8” 230jr) 14.3ppg, a solid shot blocker

F - 1 – Da’Sean Butler (6’7” 225so) 12.4ppg, 39.3% 3pt shooter

C - 43 – Jamie Smalligan (7’0” 265sr) 2.6ppg, don’t let the name fool you, he is a beast in the paint

KEY RESERVES:

G - 3 – Joe Mazzulla (6’2” 210so) 6.2ppg

F - 41 – John Flowers (6’7” 195fr) 5.2ppg

F - 35 - Wellington Smith (6’7” 215so) 5.0ppg

PLAYER OF NOTE:

G – 31 – Jarrett Brown (6’4” 220) …..joined the team in mid January….. the backup QB to Pat White

West Virginia has run off 12 and 20 point victories over Providence and Syracuse respectively, while dropping heartbreaking one point losses to Pitt and Georgetown. Somehow the roof caved in during a 62-39 loss to Cincinnati.

The Scarlet Knights have lost two in a row to WVU, but sport a 4-4 record over the last eight meetings. Rutgers does have some top talent on their club that has worked very hard all year long. There is such a fine line between winning and losing in such a well balanced Big East that hard practices, desire, and focus has led to many upsets this season. Any team willing to battle for forty minutes in this conference, gives themselves a chance to win on any given night.


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