Morgantown, WV – Back home in Morgantown following a truly ranked opponent from the Big East Conference as ranked Marquette.
The Mountaineers continue to spiral out of control in league play, the team now one game under .500 at 7-8 and jammed into the middle of the standings with other under-performing programs. For the second time this season, WVU was held below 50 points on Wednesday night, finishing with a season-low 44 in a 27-point setback at nationally-ranked Notre Dame. The margin of defeat was the largest for West Virginia since the team bowed to Villanova on the road in early 2005 by a score of 84-46. For head coach Bob Huggins, it was his worst loss since he was with Kansas State back in 2007.
Overall, the loss two nights ago was the third in the last four games for a West Virginia team that now has to make a magical run in the Big East Tournament just to be considered for the Big Dance.
As for the Golden Eagles, a team which is now tied with the Fighting Irish for second place in the Big East with a record of 12-3, they registered their fourth straight win on Wednesday night with a convincing 82-65 decision over Rutgers at home. The win was the 11th in the last 12 games for a team that is an impressive 14-1 at home in 2011-12, but just 5-4 in true road games.
The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series against WVU by a count of 6-4, thanks to a pair of wins last season. However, the good news for the Mountaineers is that they've managed to post victories in all four of the matchups played in Morgantown over the years.
Jae Crowder dropped in a game-high 27 points for the Golden Eagles on Wednesday night, as he shot 11-of-14 from the floor and also found time to pull down seven rebounds, hand out four assists, log four steals and block three shots for the hosts against the Scarlet Knights. Darius Johnson-Odom accounted for another 21 points and Vander Blue dropped in 10, as the team outscored RU at the free-throw line, 17-3, and also forced the visitors into an unsightly 24 turnovers. A candidate for Big East Player of the Year, Johnson-Odom has increased his scoring average each of his three years with the Golden Eagles and is now up to 18.7 ppg, thanks to his 40.4 percent accuracy behind the three-point line. A perfect complement to Johnson-Odom is Crowder with his 17.1 ppg as he too shoots the ball well from three-point range (.385), particularly for someone who also leads Marquette in rebounding with close to eight boards per contest.
During one 11-minute stretch in the first half against Notre Dame, the Mountaineers registered just a single field goal, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the team again failed to bring home a win from the Joyce Center. Kevin Jones led WVU with 15 points and eight rebounds in hopes of keeping the score respectable, but it simply wasn't meant to be. However, Jones did have a personal highlight in the meeting as he registered the 1,000th rebound of his career, but surely he'd trade that for an elusive win for sure. Truck Bryant tacked on 10 points, but again his 3-of-11 shooting from the field hurt the team more than it helped. Jones, now one of five players in school history and the first in more than a quarter century, to have at least 1,000 rebounds in his career, continues to be the lone bright spot in an otherwise disappointing campaign as he averages 20.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest. Bryant checks in with 16.5 ppg and is one of the leaders in assists with 84 as the team generates 72.2 ppg.