Saturday , Jan , 13 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Mountaineers hit the road to challenge Golden Eagles

Milwaukee, WI (Sports Network) – Two of the top teams in the Big East
Conference will do battle in Milwaukee this afternoon, as the Marquette Golden
Eagles play host to the 21st-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers.

Heading into Tuesday’s matchup with Notre Dame, West Virginia owned an
eight-game winning streak and a stellar 13-1 record. The Mountaineers
certainly put forth a solid effort in that road clash,
but the result was a 61-58 setback. Marquette sent a message to its Big East
opponents by knocking off UConn on Wednesday by a 73-69 final. That triumph
enabled the Golden Eagles to improve to 14-4 overall, but they are just 1-2 in
conference after double-digit losses to both Providence and Syracuse. West
Virginia recorded a 104-85 victory over Marquette last season to tie the all-
time series between the teams at 2-2.

West Virginia is outscoring opponents by over 20 points per game through 15
outings, and there is no doubt that the club’s strength is its tremendous play
at the defensive end. The Mountaineers are limiting opponents to 51.8 ppg on
39.6 percent shooting from the field, including 26 percent from three-point
range. Equally impressive is the fact that they have forced 301 turnovers, an
average of 20 per game. Frank Young is the top offensive performer for West
Virginia, as he is netting 14.5 ppg on 43.6 percent shooting from three-point
range. Joe Alexander adds 12.4 ppg, and Darris Nichols is contributing 10.0 ppg
and 4.7 apg. Alex Ruoff scored 14 points for WVU in the narrow loss to Notre
Dame, but the Mountaineers shot only 37.7 percent from the floor and shot 2-
of-7 from the foul line. Defensively, they permitted the Fighting Irish to
shoot 53.5 percent from the field.

Jerel McNeal scored 19 points to lead Marquette to the narrow win over UConn
earlier this week. McNeal did commit eight of the team’s 22 turnovers, but
strong defense enabled the Golden Eagles to overcome their mistakes. In fact,
they limited the normally efficient Huskies to 31.7 percent shooting from the
floor while forcing 21 turnovers. Ousmane Barro racked up 17 points and 13
rebounds in the victory, and Dominic James scored 17 points as well. Wesley
Matthews finished with 10 points and eight boards for Marquette, which is
scoring 72.2 ppg while surrendering 61.3 ppg to its opponents. James averages
16.1 ppg to go along with 71 assists, and McNeal is scoring 14.9 ppg in
addition to his 58 steals. Matthews (11.7 ppg) has been a consistent offensive
contributor as well.