The West Virginia Mountaineers (15-6, 5-3 BE) are set to face the 4th ranked Syracuse Orange (21-1, 8-1 BE) in the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon. The Mountaineers are looking to bounce back from a stunning loss to St. John’s. The Orange lost their first game to Notre Dame on January 21. They have since faced, and defeated, the Bearcats.
The question still remains if Fab Melo will play for Syracuse on Saturday, but the Orange have plenty of talent to make up for his absence. Kris Joseph is the team’s leading scorer. He averages 13.7 points per game. Dion Waiters averages 12.5. C.J. Fair is the team’s second leading rebounder, behind Melo, averaging 5.2. The team is ranked 24th in the nation in PPG averaging 78. Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche help elevate the team to 13th in the nation in assists. They combine for an average 7.9 assists per game. Syracuse is 103rd in the nation in rebounding averaging 36.2 RPG and 31st in the nation in field goal percentage averaging 47.9%.
Kevin Jones is continuing to play on an unbelievable level this season. Even in the loss to St. John’s, he was able to collect his 14th double-double of the season. He is averaging 20.9 PPG and 11.6 RPG. Truck Bryant is averaging 17.4 PPG but hasn’t been able to be productive in the last two games. Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne lead the Mountaineers in assists, combining for an average of 6.6 per game. Deniz Kilicli averages 10.8 PPG and 5.4 rebounds. The Mountaineers are 45th in nation in PPG averaging 75. They are 80th in the nation in field goal percentage at 46%.
The lack of effort displayed by everyone, except Kevin Jones, was noticed by fans and addressed by Huggins in the postgame interviews following the St. John’s loss. Even a referee who trotted by Huggins wondered aloud if he had anyone who wanted to play. Were they just tired? Did they just not take St. John’s seriously? Was playing the game in the Garden to overwhelming? There are many questions and few answers. It will be interesting to see how the team responds after such a game. We will all find out tomorrow at noon. The game can be seen on ESPN.