MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–The West Virginia University basketball team is ready to open the season against the Northern Kentucky Norse on Friday evening.
WVU is 91-15 in season openers, including a 97-9 record in home openers.
NKU was 13-17 and 7-7 in the Atlantic Sun Conference last season. Marshall graduate John Brannen was brought in over the offseason to try and get the Norse back on a winning track in its new home, the Horizon league.
In its exhibition game against Ohio Northern last Saturday, NKU won 81-76.
Senior Jalen Billups leads the way for the Norse this season. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound forward tallied 31 points in the win over Ohio Northern.
Senior guard Tyler White was the only other NKU player in double figures in the win with 10 points.
Billups is going to be NKU’s go to man this season. He shot 70 percent from the field last year.
NKU is a veteran team and they have faced the Mountaineers’ pressure defense last season when WVU defeated the Norse 67-42.
The Mountaineers won their exhibition game 114-76 over Glenville State last week. Miles led WVU with 20 points.
However, it was Nathan Adrian who stood out. After a trying sophomore
campaign, the Morgantown native looked to be in game form. He scored 13 points and had one assist.
While NKU has seen Press Virginia before, the Mountaineers will look to wear down the Norse with the intense full court pressure defense.
WVU’s press had the Mountaineers leading the final NCAA stats in four categories last season: steals, steals per game, forced turnovers and offensive rebounds.
WVU had nine players with 25 or more steals. Carter led the Mountaineers with 67 steals.
WVU needs to cut back on the fouls this season. Holton was the biggest victim of finding himself in foul trouble last year, but the senior is learning to be aggressive without fouling.
Against Glenville State, Holton went 18 minutes before being whistled for a foul.
The Mountaineers and NKU square off at 7 p.m. at the Coliseum. The Mountaineers will be looking for its 500th Coliseum win in the season opener.
The game will be televised on WBOY (Clarksburg), WTRF (Wheeling/Steubenville), WVNS (Beckley/Bluefield), WOWK (Charleston/Huntington) and WJAL (Chambersburg, Pa.).