MORGANTOWN- The preseason is over for West Virginia University head men's basketball coach Bobby Huggins and his unranked Mountaineer squad as Big East rival St. John's pays a visit to the Coliseum at 7 p.m. today.
WVU (8-2) is coming off of an impressive 74-63 victory over a then-undefeated Cleveland State team while the Red Storm opens their conference play with a 7-3 mark.
Senior Casey Mitchell is the top point producer for the old gold and blue (ranked No. 4 in the Big East) with a 17.5 point per game average while two other Mountaineers-Kevin Jones (12.8) and Darryl 'Truck' Bryant (11.4)-are scoring at a double-digit pace.
West Virginia’s Deniz Kilicli shoots over Cleveland State’s Aaron Pogue earlier this season. The Mountaineers open Big East play at 7 p.m. today against St. John’s.
Rounding out the expected starting five will be senior John Flowers, who is averaging 9.4 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game, and sophomore Deniz Kilicli (5.5 ppg). Also look for seniors Joe Mazzulla (5.7 ppg), Jonnie West (4.2) and Cam Thoroughman (3.0), sophomores Dalton Pepper (5.1) and Dan Jennings (2.9) as well as freshman Kevin Noreen (3.0) to see action.
St. John's is coming off of a 16-point, 85-69, victory over Northwestern in the MSG Holiday Festival. Guard Dwight Hardy, who leads the team with a 15.5 ppg average, tallied 24 points and senior forward Justin Brownlee (14.1) chipped in a career-high 21 points to lead the Red Storm.
Rounding out the starting five will be seniors D.J. Kennedy (12.2) at forward, Dele Coker (1.3) at center and Malik Boothe (4.9) and guard.
West Virginia and St. John's will be meeting for the 36th time in a series that began play in 1936-37. WVU has won the last 10 meetings, including the last five played at the Coliseum.
A 33-point explosion by Da'Sean Butler led the Mountaineers to a 79-66 victory last season at Madison Square Gardens while the last time the Red Storm visited Morgantown Butler led a trio of teammates into double figures with 21 points and the defense shut down their visitors in a 75-52 victory.
The Mountaineers play their first Big East road game on Saturday when they travel to Marquette for an 11 a.m. encounter with the Golden Eagles.