SCOUTING THE GOLDEN EAGLES
Marquette is led by forwards Lazar Haywood (6-6, 225 lbs.) and Jimmy Butler (6-6, 215 lbs.), who average 19 and 16 points per game, respectively. Haywood is a bit stronger and would be expected to play more of an inside game. Yet he has taken 54 three-pointers to just 11 for Butler, though Butler's seven makes boost his percentage to 63.6 compared with Haywood's 25 percent. Both average about seven boards per game and are above average free throw shooters. Butler, a Texas native, was the team's sixth man last year. Haywood, from Buffalo, played for Team USA in the World University Games with WVU's Da'Sean Butler. The third starting forward is Joseph Fulce (6-7, 205 lbs.). The junior hits for four points and four rebounds per game. He is an inside-only player who doesn't get to the line well and is the third option for the interior. A military academy and junior college transfer, Fulce has just one season of NCAA Division I experience.
Guards David Cubillan (6-0, 175 lbs.) and Dwight Buycks (6-3, 190 lbs.) man the point ahnd shooting slots, respectively. Cubillan is a pure distributor, though his offensive game shows much more development than it did in the last two seasons. A gutty, gritty player, the senior has made 15 of 36 shots from the field and taken only nine free throws. This should be among the easier point guard assignments in league play in terms of limiting offense and a one-spot taking over the game. But Cubillan isn't likely to turn the ball over or make mental mistakes. He doesn't beat himself or his team, and is rarely out of position on either end. Buycks, a junior, is a decent scorer from inside the arc but has missed 60 percent of his shots outside of it. The Milwaukee native and Junior College All-American hasn't yet adjusted to the speed of the major college game, and his shooting percentage has dropped about 10 points between the two levels. West Virginia's length could bother him, because no matter the match against Huggins' starting line-up, he will give up at least four inches. Add to that the length, switching of every screen and Devin Ebanks' manning of the point spot in the zone, and opposing scorers often have difficulty. Buycks averages a respectable seven-plus points and four rebounds.
Maurice Acker and Darius Johnson-Odom are the top reserves in a thinner team. Acker (5-8, 165 lbs.) plays about 27 minutes per game – essentially whatever time Cubillan doesn't. He is a solid shooter from anywhere and passes well, but won't gun shots from all over. He averages eight points and three assists and has above average quickness at both ends. Johnson-Odom (6-2, 200 lbs.), another junior college transfer, plays primarily the shooting guard position. The sophomore is the team's best shooter at 51 percent overall and 58.3 percent from three-point range (28-of-48). He nets 12 points per contest in his 25 minutes, and contributes all over the floor. He's a great addition off the bench and should continue to improve for head coach Buzz Williams. Jeronne Mayman was they key back-up for the forwards, but has left the team for personal reasons. That has propelled true freshman Erik Williams (6-7, 200 lbs.) into the line-up for the past two games. Williams has played about 15 minutes during two blowout wins, but sans foul trouble for the starters, should play far less – if at all – against West Virginia. Williams can shoot and attacks the rim well, but might be overwhelmed by the Mountaineers' talent when combined with his lack of collegiate experience.
Marquette is a solid team that is having difficulty settling on a rotation even as January nears. That's not a major issue in itself, but the departure of Mayman along with two other injuries and the lack of experienced depth has hurt. The Golden Eagles remain athletic and still like to run the floor. They cannot allow West Virginia to get them into a halfcourt game because of their lack of size and numbers. WVU should be able to assert itself as long as it gets back on defense, which would allow the game to be played in the style which is most advantageous for the Mountaineers. MU won't threaten much inside, so the key will be to guard the perimeter and cut off drives. West Virginia is likely to switch every screen again with Truck Bryant off the floor (he is again not listed as a starter), and the length and raw talent should be too much for Marquette. Of a secondary nature is Huggins' insistence that the Mountaineers were going to have a lot of fun when playing MU this season because of the celebration in the closing minutes of last year's Eagle win in Milwaukee. If, first and foremost, West Virginia establishes itself and thus a large lead, will Huggins go to the bench? Or will he pour on the points and send the Big East rivals a message? The win is the important thing, obviously, but this could be the most interesting aspect late in the game. Let's hope so.
|Tue. Dec. 29
7:00 p.m. EST
WVU 10-0, 1-0
MU 9-3, 0-0
Big East Network
WVU - 4
MU - 103
WVU: Joe Mazzulla (Shoulder) – Probable.
West Virginia has won 30 consecutive December home games. It has won 36 of its last 38 games in the month.
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WVU has 103 rebounds in its last two games combined. The Mountaineers are 48-6 under head coach Bob Huggins when outrebounding foes.
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Da'Sean Butler needs just 11 points to pass Damien Owens for 11th place on the all-time WVU career scoring list. Butler currently has 1,606.
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The Big East has two of the remaining six unbeaten teams in Division I college basketball.
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Marquette lost its only true road game of the season at Wisconsin. The home team has won each game in the series.