CHARLESTON - Like to watch a down-to-the-wire basketball game?
Then you will want to attend Wednesday night's Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic pitting state rivals West Virginia University and Marshall University, set for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Not only have 11 of the last 13 meetings between the Mountaineers and the Thundering Herd been decided by a single-digit margin, but two of the contests have gone into overtime.
This will mark the 40th meeting between the two schools since their first encounter during the 1928-29 season. WVU leads the series, 28 wins to 11, including 11 wins in the last 15 meetings.
Since the teams starting playing one another on annual basis in Charleston, the Mountaineers hold a 15-5 edge.
Both teams enter the games with 13 wins. Marshall has suffered four losses, WVU five.
But this is one of those games where the records don't matter. Rather, it is an emotional game fueled by a large and enthusiastic crowd that traditionally includes many members of the West Virginia Legislature.
West Virginia is coming into the game having won three of its last four contests, all Big East Conference games. The Mountaineers followed up their 64-57 loss at Connecticut last Monday with a 84-60 home win on Saturday over Rutgers, the second time WVU has beaten the Scarlet Knights. Marshall represents West Virginia's final non-Big East foe.
The Mountaineers are led by senior forward Kevin Jones, who is averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, both team highs. WVU's other double-digit scorers are senior guard Darryl 'Truck' Bryant, who scores at a 17.8 points per game clip, and junior forward Deniz Kilicli, who averages 11 points per game and has scored in double figures in 14 of WVU's 18 games. Rounding out the starting lineup for coach Bob Huggins team is a pair of freshmen, forward Keaton Miles, who has started every game this season, and guard Jabarie Hinds, who leads the Mountaineers in assists with 66.
The Thundering Herd of coach Tom Herrion, in his second season in Huntington, is led by sophomore guard DeAndre Kane, who averages 15.9 points per contest. Senior guard Damier Pitts is the other double-digit scorer, carrying a 13.4 average. Junior forward Dennis Tinnon not only averages 9.9 points per game, but is Marshall's top rebounder at 10.9 caroms per contest.
Other projected starters for Marshall include junior forward Robert Goff and senior guard Shaquille Johnson, who both carry averages of more than seven points per game.
Marshall stunned WVU last year, beating the No. 21 ranked Mountaineers, 75-71, behind 25 points from Pitts and 18 from Kane, handing coach Herrion a win in the series in his first game against West Virginia. The Herd's victory snapped a four-game win streak for WVU in the series.