Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
William & Mary guard Marcus Thornton leads the Tribe in scoring at 19.3 points per game.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Returning his team to the Charleston Civic Center for the second time in 15 days, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said he anticipates a better crowd than the Mountaineers would otherwise draw on campus during the holiday recess.
“I don’t like playing in front of places when there’s nobody there,” Huggins said in preparation for WVU’s matchup against William & Mary on Sunday.
West Virginia has played before small crowds at the WVU Coliseum when hosting recent mid-major opponents Duquesne (6,038), Georgia Southern (4,814) Presbyterian (5,067) and Loyola (4,692). Even matchups against high-profile teams like Gonzaga (9,350) and Purdue (10,019) have failed to approach capacity.
Huggins expects a decent draw in Charleston even though the 12,337-seat civic center seats about 1,700 fewer than the WVU Coliseum.
“Historically they have shown up for the games there (in Charleston),” he said.
After facing William & Mary, WVU begins Big 12 play with a two-game swing through TCU (Jan. 4) and Texas Tech (Jan. 6). The Mountaineers won’t play in Morgantown again until Oklahoma State visits Jan. 11.
SCOUTING WILLIAM & MARY
Tipoff: Sunday 3 p.m. at Charleston Civic Center (Root Sports TV)
Records: The Tribe (6-4) has won five of its last six games, including a 72-62 win at Rutgers. They’re 0-2 against top-150 teams, having lost to Wichita State (79-62) and Richmond (71-60). … West Virginia (7-5) is seven days removed from a 73-70 loss to Purdue.
RPIs: William & Mary is No. 226 and WVU is No. 130.
Coach: Tony Shaver is 122-193 in 11 seasons at William & Mary. He previously spent 17 seasons at Division III Hampden-Sydney compiling a record of 358-121.
Top players: Junior guard Marcus Thornton (19.3 points per game) is a former Gatorade player of the year in Maryland. Forward Tim Rusthoven (13.1 ppg), a 6-foot-9 senior who led the Colonial Athletic Association in field-goal percentage last season (.560), is shooting .581 this season.
WVU roster notes: Eron Harris (19 ppg), Juwan Staten (16.4 ppg), Terry Henderson (10.2 ppg) and Devin Williams (10.1 ppg) lead the Mountaineers in scoring, while Williams (7.9 rpg) and Staten (5.9 rpg) are tops in rebounding. … Remi Dibo made his first start of the season in the loss to Purdue only to go scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting.
Line: West Virginia favored by 9.
Prediction: West Virginia 79-71