Free of constraints, WVU and Herd meet

Neither team is in the middle of conference play.

West Virginia is still a month away from its first-ever Big 12 game. And Marshall has some time before it begins play in ConferenceUSA.
For once, both teams can concentrate on each other. Wholly concentrate on Wednesday’s game in Charleston. No excuses. No wondering which side is at a psycholgical disadvantage because the game comes after conference play has already begun.
West Virginia is 2-3 and has played only once at home. Three Mountaineer games were on a neutral court in the Old Spice tournament in central Florida where West Virginia fell to Davidson and Oklahoma after tripping Marist.
Marshall is 5-3 overall after playing four games at home, two on a neutral floor in a tournament, and the others in losses at Villanova and Hofstra. A third loss was administered by South Dakota State.
At home, the Thundering Herd has beaten Longwood, Morehead State, Nevada, and UNC-Wilmington.
If nothing else has been accomplished by the Mountaineers, they have been better from the foul line where several players were perfect (including Deniz Kilicli’s 3-for-3) in a 17-for-21 (81 percent) showing against VMI.
Coach Bob Huggins has winnowed his rotation to nine players for the most part.
Against the Keydets, in a game West Virginia won by 25 points, Huggins had starters in Aaric Murray, Juwan Staten, Jabarie Hinds, Terry Henderson and Kilicli. That’s basically a three-guard alignment.
Keaton Miles played 25 minutes, was 5-for-5 from the foul line, and scored 11 points. Eron Harris had four rebounds, 10 points and three fouls in 16 minutes. Gary Browne played 26 minutes, had seven rebounds, seven assists, and 11 points. And Aaron Brown played 15 minutes with five rebounds but a 1-for-7 showing on shots from the field.
The Mountaineers committed only eight turnovers against the Keydets.
The Thundering Herd of head coach Tom Herrion have shown starters 6-foot-8 Dennis Tinnon, 6-foot-10 Nigel Spikes, 6-foot-9 Elijah Pittman, 6-foot-4 DeAndre Kane, and 6-foot-4 D. D. Sarver.
Herrion doesn’t go far down his bench, using just Chris Martin, Jamir Hanner, and J.P. Kambola (five minutes) in escaping Morehead State at the Cam Henderson Center, 70-67.
Many of Herrion’s players will have to be told of the significance of the West Virginia game to Marshall and the city of Huntington because he has them from Kansas City Community College, Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, Lamar in Texas, Fort Lauderdale, and Toronto, Canada.
After seeing Marshall on Dec.5, the Mountaineers come back to the Coliseum for only the second time this Saturday and will play Virginia Tech.
Volodymyr Gerun, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward/center will be eligible for the first time. He couldn’t play because the NCAA penalized him for participating in games against professionals in his native Ukraine. The NCAA powers kept Gerun out for the season’s first six games.
Virginia Tech has plunged into a schedule filled with home games against little-known and little-valued opponents.
Of Virginia Tech’s first six games, five were at home in the Cassell Coliseum against East Tennessee State, Rhode Island, VMI, Appalachian State, and Iowa (in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge).
The Hokies went to the road just once and they won at UNC-Greensboro.
Erick Green, a Winchester resident who prepped at Paul VI High School near Washington, D.C., had scored nearly 25 points a game through the first six outings. Jarrell Eddy scored 17 points a game for first-year head coach James Johnson.
Johnson replaced Seth Greenberg, now free to analyze college basketball games for ESPN.
Virginia Tech’s last game was on Saturday at home against 15th-ranked Oklahoma State.
West Virginia has been at home once in six games. Virginia Tech has been at home six times in seven games.
Both Marshall and Virginia Tech will be games full of emotion for the Mountaineers. All too soon, the Big 12 slice of the schedule will begin. And nearly all of those games should be charged with electricity . . . if not, West Virginia will be unable to keep up with its first-seen neighbors from the plains.


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