St. Louis Preview

Many fans know St. Louis about as well as they knew Northeastern, but the Billikens will present an even tougher test than the sharpshooting Huskies.

SCOUTING THE BILLIKENS

For the second straight game, WVU will face a swingman who leads the team in scoring. This time, it's Chris Sloan (6-7) who leads St. Louis with 16.7 points per game.

In the backcourt, Josh Fisher (6-2) and Anthony Drejaj (6-2) team up to provide a physical presence. Both players are on the north side of 200 pounds, and play an excellent all around game. The duo has combined to commit just nine turnovers in St. Louis' 3-0 start, and forces defenses to cover them all over the floor. Fisher is averaging 15 points per game, while Drejaj adds 6.7 per outing. Fisher is also a 90% free throw shooter.

On the front line, Tom Frericks (6-9) and Izki Ohanon (6-9) give the Billikens bulk up front. They set screen after screen in St. Louis' patient offense, and look to wear down defenders who have to battle through them for forty minutes. Think Quincy Wilson in the fourth quarter, and you have a good idea of St. Louis' offensive game plan.

Rebounding is something of a team effort, with Sloan, Ross Varner and Frericks averaging between five and six boards per game.

Off the bench, another big body is Varner(6-7) who started two games before giving way to Ohanon. Phillip Hunt will be the first man off the pine at the guard position.

KEY MATCHUP

West Virginia guard Jarmon Durisseau-Collins vs. St. Louis guard Josh Fisher

Fisher has done an excellent job of directing the patient Billiken attack, piling up a 3-1 assist to turnover ratio. With WVU's troubles in stopping penetration, JDC will have to be at his best tonight in order to keep Fisher out of the Mountaineer interior.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Tue 12/2 7:00 p.m.
Charleston Civic Center
Records
WVU 1-1, 0-0
SLU 3-0, 0-0
Series
Tied 2-2
TV
None
RPI
WVU - 112
SLU - 248
Line: WVU -5
Collins will try to cut the floor in half, and keep Fisher from reversing the ball or having free rein in the middle of the floor. Although WVU's sophomore is giving up a few inches in height, he is the strongest Mountaineer, pound for pound, and should be able to match up to Fisher from a strength standpoint.

If Collins can keep Fisher from directing the game and dictating the pace as Northeastern's Jose Juan Barea did on Saturday, West Virginia will have a chance in this contest. However, if Fisher is able to penetrate and get away from Collins off the numerous screens in the Billiken attack, the Mountaineers will be in for a long night.

INJURY REPORT

WVU: Nick Patella (Concussion) Out, Kevin Pittsnogle (Thumb) Will Play

SLU: None

OUTLOOK

The odds and RPI point to WVU as the favorite in this game, but that only serves to highlight the wild swings and inaccuracies those metrics can take early in the season. While St. Louis hasn't played a tough schedule, the Billikens have a solid foundation of experience, and are looking to establish the good early start that eluded them last year.

As head coach John Beilein noted yesterday, the Mountaineers are going to have to improve their physicality in order to compete with teams like St. Louis, which will set something on the order of nine thousand screens during the game.

West Virginia, despite big iprovements in the weight room, still isn't in a position to throw much of it around on the court. The home away from home crowd should help, but getting a win in this game will be a difficult task for the still young Mountaineers.

FAST BREAKS

Swingman Drew Schifino has scored in double figures in 40 straight games - the second best active streak in the NCAA.

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West Virginia is 46-16 (.742) all-time at the Charleston Civic Center.

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St. Louis will be bolstered against WVU by the addition of junior guard Reggie Bryant, who sat out the first three games of the year as penance for his involvement in an NCAA violation at Villanova, his former school. However, the Mountaineers won't have to face center Ian Vouyoukas of Greece, who is sitting out the first 10 games of the season. Vouyoukas played with professionals on a club team in Greece, and is being penalized by the NCAA for that transgression.

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Guard Nick Patella practiced with the team for the first time yesterday since suffering his second concussion of the season, but did not make the trip to Charleston for the game.


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