West Virginia - Marquette Preview

West Virginia looks to break a two-game losing streak against Marquette, but the tenth-ranked Golden Eagles will be a difficult foe to defeat in the student-less WVU Coliseum.

SCOUTING THE GOLDEN EAGLES

Marquette features a three-guard offense with three distinct styles, making them difficult to defend. Waterbug point guard Dominic James (Jr., 5-11, 185 lbs.) is an outstanding penetrator who leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game, and tallies his points from the rim to the three-point line, which makes him the toughest player to guard on the Golden Eagle roster. He completes his all around play by dishing the ball to teammates and running the offense effectively, averaging 4.3 assists per contest. Shooting guard Jerel McNeal (Jr., 6-3, 200 lbs.) is a slasher who scores on the move, and gets most of his looks from the midrange in. He is second on the team at 13.4 points per outing, and also hauls down 4.8 rebounds per contest. Wes Matthews (Jr., 6-5, 215 lbs.) is the physical strength of the backcourt. He tallies 10.4 points per game and muscles in close for many of his shots. He also helps out on the boards with 4.6 per contest.

On the front line, Lazar Hayward (So., 6-6, 225 lbs.) provides the bulk of the production of the starting duo. Hayward is an excellent free throw shooter as well, which helps account for many of his 13.3 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounding at 6.3 per contest. Fellow starter Dwight Burke is that in name only. Burke (Jr., 6-8, 250 lbs.) averages just 14.7 minutes per game, as three other players tally more minutes than he off the bench.

The Golden Eagles are particularly deep there, with four players getting at least 13.6 minutes per game. David Cubillan (So., 6-0, 175 lbs.) and Maurice Acker (So., 5-8, 165 lbs.) provide much of the backup support in the backcourt. Cubillan is a long-range sniper who has scored nearly two-thirds of his points from beyond the arc, and who also possesses a good floor game, as his 2.5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio attests. Acker is another serious three-point threat, with almost half of his field goals coming from downtown. The pair combines for 13.1 points per game.

Up front, Dan Fitzgerald (Sr., 6-9, 220 lbs.) and Ousmane Barro (Sr., 6-10, 235 lbs.) get more time than Burke, the starter at one forward spot. Fitzgerald is not taken a shot inside the three-point line in seven games this year (he sat out five with a wrist injury), and is making 50% of his attempts. Barro is the inside force on the bench, averaging 5.8 points and 5.4 boards per game. He also leads the team with 17 blocked shots.

OUTLOOK

Marquette, like West Virginia, isn't big, but the Golden Eagles will have the advantage of numbers on their side.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Sun Jan 6
2:00 p.m.

WVU Coliseum
Records
WVU 10-3, 0-1
MU 11-1, 1-0
Series
MU 3-2
TV
ESPN+
Sirius Channel: 110
RPI
WVU - 40
MU - 26
Look for Marquette to constantly shuttle players in and out of the game in an attempt to wear down the short Mountaineer bench, made even shorter with the departure of Jacob Green. The Golden Eagles will attempt to keep the tempo up, and will try to attack West Virginia's defense in transition before it has a chance to get set up with all five players back. Marquette is particularly well-suited to do this, as it has a great balance between penetrators who can drive and either score or dish off when covered.

WVU, to counter this, will have to get players back on defense early and force Marquette into a half court offense. While this is no guarantee of success, it will certainly be more preferable than allowing the Golden Eagle guards to freewheel their way through the open court.

On offense, West Virginia must, quite simply, hit some shots. They don't have to necessarily be three-pointers, but the Mountaineers have to get some attempts to go down in order to stay in the game. Despite West Virginia's defensive improvement, it is still not good enough to shut down opponents for an entire game and win consistently while shooting 40% from the field.

WVU will be at a distinct disadvantage when facing James and trying to keep him out of the lane. With Joe Mazzulla still battling a thigh bruise, and without a guard that has James' jitterbug quickness, the Mountaineers will have to play very good help defense to keep him out of the lane, or go to a zone defense in order to help against penetration. That of course, will open up the perimeter for Marquette's outside shooters, and if they are on, it could be lights out for West Virginia in a third consecutive game.

INJURY REPORT

WVU: Joe Mazzulla (Thigh) Probable

MU: Trevor Mbakwe (Knee) Out

FAST BREAKS

Marquette play-by-play man Steve True is nicknamed "The Homer".

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West Virginia has won five straight Big East home openers, and is 36-3 in its last 39 games at the Coliseum. Marquette has never won a game at West Virginia, and will be playing just its second true road game of the season.

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Marquette is in the first year of a six-year deal to wear Converse's Brand Wade shoes, uniforms and other gear. Developed by former Golden Eagle standout and current Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, the shoe and clothing line distinguishes Marquette from every other program in the NCAA. Marquette's uniforms do bear a bit of a throwback look, with some of the horizontal striping being reminiscent of its national championship season under head coach Al McGuire.

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West Virginia's rebounding margin has shrunk to +3.5 after being pounded by 13 on the glass against Notre Dame.


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