West Virginia (1-0) at Virginia Tech (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 12, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cassell Coliseum (9,847) -- Blacksburg, Virginia. Television: ESPN. Home Record: WVU 1-0, Virginia Tech 1-0. Away Record: WVU 0-0, Virginia Tech 0-0. Neutral Record: WVU 0-0, Virginia Tech 0-0. Conference Record: WVU 0-0, Virginia Tech 0-0. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 76-29.
GAMES NOTES: On Tuesday, the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Virginia Tech Hokies will take part in a non-conference battle at Cassell Coliseum.
Coming off its first losing season since 2003, West Virginia needed a strong start and it got just that in the opener. Led by 22 points from Juwan Staten, the Mountaineers rolled to a 77-62 victory over Mount St. Mary's. The defensive end was really where they excelled as the Mountaineers had a 12-2 edge in points off turnovers, while holding Mount St. Mary's to just 40 percent shooting. The victory ended a seven-game losing streak that the Mountaineers had hanging over their heads coming in.
Last year Virginia Tech had the fewest wins in a single season since the 2002-03 campaign. The 2013-14 did not get off to a much better start as the Hokies were taken down, 64-62, by USC Upstate. The Hokies had plenty of chances to win in the final minutes but were unable to connect on their last five field goal attempts. Poor shooting hurt the Hokies during the entire game as they were only able to drop in 39 percent of their shots.
Staten made a layup with five seconds to play to lift the Mountaineers to a 68-67 victory at WVU Coliseum when these teams played last year. The victory was one of very few for the Mountaineers in the all-time series which the Hokies lead by a convincing 76-29 margin.
Staten was one of the better scorers for the Mountaineers last year. Staten didn't score in double figures in the final 11 games of the 2012-13 season but his effort against Mount St. Mary's showed just how explosive he can be with the ball in his hands. Eron Harris added 19 points for the Mountaineers after leading the team in scoring a year ago. Together, Harris and Staten form a potent backcourt tandem that could be trouble for opponents if they keep up the torrid pace from the opener. The frontcourt remains a mystery for the Mountaineers, who were on the short end of the rebounding battle (30-28) in their season-opening loss. Nathan Adrian put in 11 points as one of the starting forwards, but he also collected only three rebounds. The lack of work on the glass didn't hurt since the Mountaineers shot 56 percent from the field.
Without ACC leading scorer Erick Green to help him, Jarell Eddie struggled in leading the Hokies offensively in the season opener. Eddie was the second option to Green last year and his first run as the primary scorer did not go well, as he netted just 6-of-21 field goal attempts, en route to team-highs in points (18) and rebounds (seven). Eddie's struggles in shooting were a team- wide problem as the Hokies connected on just 39 percent of their field goal attempts in the losing effort. Cadarian Raines scored 17 points, as the second option against USC Upstate, on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting, but the Hokies got very little production out of the backcourt, with Adam Smith (seven points) the leading scorer among the guards. Joey van Zegeren came off the bench and performed well defensively with five blocked shots.
Life without Green is clearly going to be difficult for the Hokies until they find some way of filling the void. However, West Virginia may struggle to deal with the Hokies up front. Without an answer for Staten though, it won't help enough.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 71, Virginia Tech 66
11/12 10:36:03 ET