WVU takes on Marist at AdvoCare Invite
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — No. 23 West Virginia (3-1) will look for two things when it takes on a winless Marist (0-3) team at 8:30 p.m. today in a quarterfinal matchup in the AdvoCare Invitationa — a fourth straight win and consistency.
“We still aren’t getting consistent play from everybody,” veteran head coach Bob Huggins said following the Mountaineers 91-62 win over Long Beach State Monday night in Morgantown. “We have a guy (Daxter Miles Jr.) score 32 one night and then can’t find the basket the next game.”
Miles was a one-man wrecking crew in WVU’s 111-48 dismantling of Morgan State on Saturday, scoring a career-high 32 points. But, the senior missed his first five shots and finished 2-for-7 from the floor (0-2 from the arc) to finish with four points against the 49ers.
“We just can’t seem to get everybody playing well at the same time. And, it’s more on the defensive end. We need to play harder on defense. We’re giving up too many uncontested shots and we need to continue to improve with our rebounding,” said the coach.
On the plus side, the Old Gold and Blue did receive a pair of career scoring nights from sophomores Sagaba Konate and Chase Harler.
Konate hit 80 percent (8 of 10) of his shots from the floor and all four of his free throws to finish with 20 points while Wheeling Central Catholic grad Harler was 4 of 9 from the floor (all four from behind the arc) and both free throws to raise his career scoring total to 14 points.
This will be WVU’s third appearance in the AdvoCare Invitational (formerly known as the Old Spice Classic). The Mountaineer reached the finals once, but fell to Arkansas in the 2006 title game.
Marist is 0-3 following a 94-73 loss at home to Army on Saturday. The Red Foxes of former-WVU assistant Mike Maker also dropped games to Lehigh, 84-76 in overtime, and at UMass Lowell, 76-73.
The two teams met in the opening round of the 2012 AdvoCare Invite with the Mountaineers coming away with an 87-44 triumph.
Huggins likely will go with the same starting lineup that took to the Coliseum court against Long Beach State on Monday. Seniors Jevon Carter, who had a career-high nine steals against American, and Miles will start at the guards with sophomores Lamont West, Wesley Harris and Konate at the forwards.
Marist will counter with juniors Brian Parker, the team’s leading scorer at 19.7 points per game, and David Knudsen (12.7 ppg) at the guards with junior Ryan Funk (12.3) and sophomore Aleksander Dozic (8.3) at the forwards and sophomore Tobias Sjoberg (3.0) at the center.
WVU sports four starters averaging double digits with Carter leading the way at 15.5 points per game. Miles (14.8), West (12.8) and Konate (10.7) round out the group. Harris chips in with 7.5 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game.
Coming off the bench will be sophomores James ‘Beetle’ Bolden (12.8 ppg) and Harler (5.0 ppg) at the guards with juniors D’Angelo Hunter (2.8 ppg), sophomores Logan Routt (2.5 ppg) and Maciej Bender (1.5 ppg) and freshman Teddy Allen (8.3 ppg) providing depth on the inside.
“Any time you play three games in four days it tests you,” said Huggins. “We open with a good Marist team and then face either Nebraska or UCF the very next day. It doesn’t give you a lot of time to prepare for your opponent.
“But, it doesn’t give your opponent a lot of time to prepare for our press.”