CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia battles VMI at the Charleston Civic Center Saturday night as part of a triple-header of basketball in the Capital City.
The University of Charleston will take on Bellarmine at 2 p.m. and West Virginia State will face Virginia State at 4 p.m. The “triple feast” is being presented by C. Adam Toney Tires and one ticket gains admission to all three games.
In the nightcap, West Virginia is facing VMI, an old foe from West Virginia’s Southern Conference days in the 1950s and 1960s. The two teams met 46 times from 1950-68 with West Virginia claiming 41 of those meetings.
This year, VMI brings a 5-0 record into Saturday’s game with wins over Southern Virginia, Randolph College, UMBC, UVa-Wise and Jacksonville State. Six-five forward Stan Okoye (22.0 ppg.) and 6-foot-4 guard Keith Gabriel (20.0 ppg.) lead the Keydets in scoring.
VMI likes to get up and down the floor and score quickly.
“I think we’ve got to do a better job in transition,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “When we get back in our set defense they are going to have to run some clock or take contested shots. But the whole key is going to get back in transition and find people in transition.”
West Virginia, meanwhile, last played on Sunday in the championship game of the Honda Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Puerto Rico, dropping a 74-70 decision to Minnesota. Before that, the Mountaineers downed Vanderbilt 74-71. West Virginia also shows victories over Davidson and Oakland.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Huggins following his team’s 1-1 performance down in San Juan. “We’ve got to get better defensively. We’ve got to rebound the ball – we are not rebounding the ball near where we ought to be and we haven’t run offense. But I guess the positive is we had a chance to beat two good teams and we really didn’t play very well.”
Guard Casey Mitchell scored a career-high 31 points in the Vanderbilt win and added 27 in the Minnesota loss to make the Puerto Rico Tip-Off all-tournament team. Mitchell is leading the Mountaineers averaging 20.5 points per game. Guard Truck Bryant is averaging 11.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game while 6-foot-8 forward Kevin Jones shows averages of 10 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Tonight’s game will be televised locally on the Big East Network (Dave Weekley and Mike Kelly). Markets carrying the telecast include New York (SNY), Washington, D.C. (MASN), Hagerstown, Md. (WJAL), Hartford (SNY-CT), Providence (Cox), Charleston (WVAH), Wheeling (WTOV-DT2), Clarksburg (WVFX) and Parkersburg (WTAP). Beckley’s WOAY will televise the game on a tape-delay basis.
To purchase tickets, c all (304) 345-SHOW or stop by the Charleston Civic Center Box Office.