SCOUTING THE HOYAS
Georgetown's media notes lists five players as "possible starters", but barring injury or some other unforeseen circumstance, the Hoyas will march out the same starting five it has used all season. Like West Virginia, Georgetown relies on a big three of upperclassmen, and the trio has carried the Hoyas to an unexpected great start. Forward Hollis Thompson has racked up 13.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and teams with center Henry Sims (12.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) to form an imposing frontline presence. Sims also helps as a backstop on defense, blocking 24 shots. Thompson can range outside, where he's canned a team-best 28 threes, while Sims does all of his damage inside. Nate Lubick, the third option up front, scores just 3,8 points per game, but does get 4.5 rebounds in fewer than 20 minutes per outing.
Off the bench, Otto Porter has been as productive as many starters. He tosses in 8.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per appearance, and averages 28 minutes -- more than three of Georgetown's starters. Greg Whittington eats up most of the remaining minutes up front, getting 17 off the bench while adding 2.5 points and 2.1 rebounds.
Jason Clark leads the backcourt, and the team, with 15.9 points per contest from the guard slot. He's complemented by Markel Starks, who tosses in 9.4 points per contest, and backup Jabril Trawick (2.9 points in 14 minutes per outing).
Georgetown still has elements of the Princeton offense in its attack, and it's evident in the passing figures of its big men. Sims is an outstanding passer from the post, totaling 53 assists against 34 turnovers, while Thompson is also on the plus side of the ledger with 24 assists against just 18 turnovers. Oddly enough, Georgetown's guards, Clark and Starks, are on the negative side of the assist to turnover ratio, with a combined 38-53 mark. The Hoyas are very efficient otherwise, shooting 48% from the field and 72% from the free throw line while holding a +5.5 rebounding margin advantage.
In past seasons, Georgetown played pillow-soft non-conference schedules, but that hasn't been the case this year. The Hoyas have won four games over top 25 opponents, best in the nation this year, and own wins over Louisville and Marquette --- two teams that figure to vie for the league title.
WVU 11-4, 2-1
RU 13-1, 3-0
WVU - 22
GU - 7
WVU will try to force the pace against the Hoyas to take them out of their comfort zone. If John Thompson's troops get caught up running the ball, they can make mistakes, and also not get to their bread and butter of working the ball to the post and around the perimeter. West Virginia has done fairly well in taking away the back cuts and screens of Georgetown's patterned attack in recent games, but it will have to play well straight up against the Hoyas big men in this encounter.
WVU's tactics when the bigs get the ball bear watching. Will the Mountaineers double down, or will they play straight up and take their chances? Given the passing ability of Sims and Thompson, the bet is that WVU doesn't double too much. That will put pressure on Deniz Kilicli and Kevin Jones - they will have to move their feet and not get any silly fouls, as they will likely have to guard the ball more than they have against any other opponent this season.
While the Mountaineers have had success in the past against Georgetown's screen and cut looks, this will be the first time Jabarie Hinds, Gary Browne and Aaron Brown will have seen this particular style. Watch them early -- are they staying with their men off those screens, or are they getting their heads turned and giving up backdoor moves? If so, there could be a steady stream of subs on and off the Mountaineer bench as Bob Huggins looks for defensive answers.
The WVU - Georgetown series has been one of streaks. The Hoyas won the first four Big East meetings before WVU bounced back to win three in a row. G'town then ran off eight consecutive wins, but the Mountaineers have now responded with four wins in a row.
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Truck Bryant will move into sole possession of tenth place on WVU's career starts list with 107. Kevin Jones will also make a move into another top ten list. With four rebounds, he'll pass Darryl Prue for tenth on the career list with 866.
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When Georgetown moved into the top ten this week, it marked the sixth-straight year the Hoyas have made at least one appearance in that group. The last time Georgetown had a string of six straight years in the top-10 was between 1981-82 and 1986-87. Georgetown is one of only four schools nationwide to appear in the top-10 at least once in each of the last six years. The others are Duke, North Carolina and Pitt.
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In Big East play, WVU is shooting 71.8% from the free throw line. In non-conference games, it shot just 61.5%.