West Virginia-Notre Dame: Mountaineers Face Another Big East Test Against Irish

Michael CarvelliContributor IFebruary 18, 2009

After a big win at home over No. 14 Villanova last Friday, the West Virginia Mountaineers are looking to record another key, Big East win today as they square off with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish are coming off a big win of their own, an impressive 33-point slaughter of No. 7 Louisville.

Over the past few years, a win over Notre Dame has been a rarity for the Mountaineers, as the Irish have won 13 of their last 14 meetings with the Mountaineers, including four of their last five in Morgantown.

A big key in tonight's game for West Virginia will be how well they are able to contain Notre Dame's All-American big man Luke Harangody. The 6'8", 255-pound defending Big East Player of the Year will have to shoulder much of the load for the Irish, as he has all season. The junior's 24.4 points per game are first in the Big East, while his 12.7 boards are second to Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair.

Notre Dame will also look for a solid outing from senior guard Kyle McAlarney. McAlarney, a 45 percent shooter from three-point range, will need to be on for his team to stay in the game against a WVU team that leads the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense (26.4 percent).

West Virginia will once again rely on the play of their top two scorers, senior Alex Ruoff and junior Da'Sean Butler.

Ruoff, who is averaging 15.9 points per game, is coming off a quiet game against Villanova. Though he only scored eight points in the win, he dished out a team-high five assists.

Most of the assists were to Butler, who hit for a career-high 43 points on 12-23 shooting. With that game, the junior from Newark, New Jersey became the first Mountaineer to score 40 points in a game since Lowes Moore scored 41 against Notre Dame in 1978.

To win today, the Mountaineers will not only need good games from those two, but will also need contributions from junior Wellington Smith, sophomore John Flowers, and freshmen Darryl "Truck" Bryant, Devin Ebanks, and Kevin Jones.



WVU PG Darryl Bryant vs. ND PG Tory Jackson

Though he has been better as of late, Bryant has been known to struggle when put up against an experienced point guard. The Marquette and Louisville games are prime examples of this, in those two games "Truck" committed eight turnovers with just one assist.