Ready for this one. Hope the Mountaineers are. Cleveland State is going to bring it today. This is the Vikings biggest non league game of the year. Cleveland State is the top ranked team in the Mid-Major Top 25 as ranked by CollegeInsider.com.
The Cleveland State team is also ranked #20 in the RPI. They have all five starters back from last year’s team. But one of those players won’t be in uniform today. D’Aundray Brown is out with a broken hand.
Favorable early tone is set early for the Mountaineers as Cleveland State is whistled for two early fouls. Two fouls in the first :45 as one was called on the press and one on guard Jeremy Montgomery as the Vikings defense attempted to push the Mountaineers out a bit early.
The Mountaineers have matched the intensity early and it was John Flowers again providing a big spark. Flowers blocked a shot all the way out to mid court. This after Flowers spectacular defensive performance in Sunday’s win over Duquesne.
Casey Mitchell snapped a streak of nine consecutive missed three point shots as he knocked one down right before the first media timeout. It put the Mountaineers up 9-7. That shot was set up by Joe Mazzulla’s drive and kick. Mazzulla also has an early bucket in this game as he was in quick to replace Truck Bryant.
Cleveland State is having an amazing hot streak shooting three pointers. Coming in, the Vikings were shooting 52% from three over the last four games as they had hit 45 3′s over that stretch. Cleveland State hit four of its first five three point shots in this game. Josh McCoy, Tim Kamczyc and Tre Harmon (2) have all hit one . The Mountaineers have stopped Norris Cole so far (0-4 from the field) but they haven’t stopped the other Cleveland State guards.
Halftime and the trio of Joe Mazzulla, Cam Thoroughman and Jonnie West have combined for 17 points as Bryant and Deniz Kilicli have been missing in action so far. The before mentioned trio combines to average south of 12 points per game this season. Kevin Jones worked hard and played hard in that first half but he shot just 1-5 from the field. Casey Mitchell had just six points. The Mountaineers need to have more than eight points in the second half from their two leading scorers.
West played the final six minutes of the first half at the point as Mazzulla was in foul trouble and Bryant was on the bench. Mazzulla is back in there to start the second half.
Good start and good ball movement to start the second half as Jones got a lay up. Flowers would then score in transition to put the Mountaineers up by eight….their biggest lead of the game so far.
Cole has brought Cleveland State back with eight points in the first eight minutes of the second half. He scored just six points in 20 minutes of play in the first half.
Kevin Jones has exploded in the second half with 13 points. His three with just under 3:00 will likely be the shot that seals the game. Jones gets his sixth career double/double in this game.
Thoroughman’s stat line is remarkable: nine points on 3-4 shooting from the field and 3-5 from the fould line, six rebounds, seven assists (with no turnovers) and two steals. For the season, Thoroughman has 26 assists and just seven turnovers.
Flowers also has a double/double today with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Flowers has earned his first two career double/doubles in the last two home games as he had one back on Dec. vs. Robert Morris.
Final: WVU 74, Cleveland State 63. 34 consecutive home wins in the month of December for the Mountaineers. It’s the first loss of the season for Cleveland State.