MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–For the third time in three seasons, West Virginia will meet Virginia. Two years ago the Cavaliers pounded the Mountaineers at Madison Square Garden. Last season WVU had the upper hand in Charlottesville.
This year brings another Top 25 matchup as No. 15 UVA travels to Morgantown for a showdown against the 16th-ranked Mountaineers.
Both teams showcase two different but exhilarating defenses, which have brought both teams much success.
The Cavaliers (8-0) are undefeated and Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense has been detrimental to opponents.
VCU was the only team to score more than 60 points against UVA this season.
“I think a lot is said about their defense, but the reality is they control games with their offense,” WVU head coach Huggins said. “The Pack Line is good and Tony does the best job in the country at teaching the Pack Line, and it’s a weapon, no question, but the reality is – and your kids are even smart enough to understand that you don’t want to go down there and defend them for 30 seconds and then go down and jack one up the first five seconds you have the ball.”
Huggins turns to seniors Jevon Carter (19.0 points, 5.5 assists) and Daxter Miles Jr. (14.9 points) to help teach his young squad how to break apart UVA’s defense.
“It’s whole/part/whole,” Huggins said. “We show them the whole thing, and then we break it into parts, and then we put it back together again.”
Things aren’t any easier for the Cavaliers as they must deal with the Mountaineers’ (7-1) full-court pressure defense, which wears down its opponents.
WVU leads the nation in turnover margin (10.8), is third in forced turnovers (178) and is fifth in steals (91).
The Mountaineers have forced 19 turnovers or more in every game but the season opener.
UVA is led Kyle Guy (16.6 points). He is shooting nearly 43 percent from 3-point range.
Guard Devon Hall follows with 11.8 points, 4.0 rebounds.
This will be the 19th meeting between WVU and the Cavaliers. Each team has won nine meetings in the series.
The Mountaineers a on a seven-game winning streak and are averaging 93 points during that tenure,
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS