Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 14, 2013

Capital Classic features contrasts

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Looking at last season’s West Virginia-Marshall Capital Classic men’s basketball matchup to get clues about tonight’s game should be accompanied by a disclaimer.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Both teams went 13-19 last season. After that, Marshall lost four of last year’s starters and West Virginia likewise re-made its team.

The 42nd meeting between the men of the two universities, tipping off at about 7:30 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center, will feature very different ballclubs.

Marshall (4-5) will be trying to snap a three-game losing streak. West Virginia (6-4) is coming off its second straight loss, an 80-76 setback to No. 16 Gonzaga on Tuesday night.

Eron Harris and Jewan Staten bear the scoring mantle for the Mountaineers, averaging 19.3 and 16.4 points per game respectively. Devin Williams is pulling down 7.9 rebounds per outing. Staten’s 6.8 assists per game is eighth in the nation.

Marshall’s Kareem Canty, the current Conference USA freshman of the week, provides 6.7 assists per game, 10th best in Division I. He also leads MU in scoring with 18.3 points per game. Ryan Taylor averages 7.6 rebounds for the Herd.

For the record, the Mountaineers hold a 30-11 lead in the all-time series and have beaten the Herd in 17 of the 22 Capital Classic contests. West Virginia has won six of the last seven meetings.

Last December, WVU took a 69-59 win, led by Deniz Kilicli’s 21 points. D.D. Scarver led MU with 17 points; DeAndre Kane had 13 points and seven assists.

Marshall led 19-13 early, but West Virginia scored the next six points to tie things up and led 31-25 at halftime. The last few minutes of the game were remembered most for a scuffle that led to the ejection of four WVU players for leaving the bench and one Marshall player.

Eleven of the last 15 meetings have been decided by single digits, and two went to overtime. Marshall’s last win was 75-71 in January 2011.

Expect a lot of wear and tear on the foul line. In the past six years, the teams have combined to average 47.7 fouls per game and have shot 325 free throws.

A West Virginia win would give Huggins sole possession of 16th place for wins among NCAA Division I coaches, with 730 victories.

The civic center holds fond memories for Marshall’s TyQuane Goard, who played high school basketball for George Washington High in Charleston.

In 2011, he led GW to a state championship with a 55-54 win over Wheeling Park. He was the game’s high scorer with 19 points.

 The game will be telecast over the Capital Classic Network, which includes WVNS-TV in our area.

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The women’s game tips off at 1 p.m. at the Civic Center. West Virginia (7-1) has won eight straight in the series with Marshall (3-4).

After an opening-season loss, the Mountaineers have won six of seven games by double digit margins. Christal Caldwell paces the WVU offense with a 15.5-point scoring average. Asya Bussie leads the team stats in rebounds (8.1 per game) and has blocked 15 shots.

Each of Marshall’s three wins has come with different starting lineups. In Monday’s 86-42 victory over WVU-Tech, Marshall scored its most points since November 2011.

Leah Scott, who has started every game, leads MU’s scoring with 12 points per game, while Chukwuka Ezeigbo is the prime rebounder with 7.4 boards per outing and has 15 shot blocks.

McKenzie Akers, the former Princeton point guard, has been given the green light to become the 3-point specialist for the Thundering Herd. She has made 40 percent of her 42 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc.

Though she has started just one of Marshall’s seven games, Akers is averaging 21 minutes per game and averages 6.7 points.

West Virginia has been averaging 78.6 points and Marshall has been recording 64.6 points per game.

The game is to be televised by WOWK, a CBS affiliate in Huntington and Charleston.

West Virginia leads the series 36-16.

— Contact Tom Bone at