It'll be a late one tonight, and from the perspective of the West Virginia Mountaineers: it will be a tough one. Here's what I'll be watching when the 'Eers and Irish toss it up at 9:00 PM:
- Can KJ make history? He already is, simply by leading the Big East in scoring and rebounding and being a front-runner for conference player of the year. That said, if he can knock down 20 tonight, he'll join rarefied air becoming only the third player in school history to score 20 points in 10 straight games. He'll join the likes of Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley, so that's some good company right there.
- Where will the Truck go? Truck Bryant dropped 32 on the Friars in the Mountaineers last outing, and they needed every one of them. At this point in the year, it seems painfully obvious that this Mountaineer team will go as far as Truck Bryant will take it. Unfortunately, he's been KJ's opposite and has played a very up and down all season long. If he can contribute by knocking down a high percentage of his shots, then WVU can win this one without a problem. If he's having trouble hitting his shots, it's going to be an awfully long night for Mountaineer fans.
- Can the Turk keep it up? Deniz Kilicli turned in one of his best performances of the year this past weekend, playing dominantly in the lane on both ends of the court. It was crucial since the loss of Pat Forsythe and Kevin Noreen to injury has severely hampered the Mountaineers' crop of big men. Luckily, Kilicli played at his best and junior college transfer Dominique Rutledge wasn't counted on to play serious minutes. Kilicli has to continue improving and scoring the basketball like we know he can. If he and Kevin Jones can lay a strong foundation down low, it will allow Truck Bryant and the freshmen to flourish.
- What happened to the frosh? It seems that the WVU freshman class of Gary Browne, Jabarie Hinds, Keaton Miles and Aaron Brown have hit the wall. While each has shown flashes this season of why they were brought to Morgantown, there's no consistency there. Once the Mountaineers schedule shifted to the Big East, it has been harder and harder for them to reap meaningful minutes. West Virginia may be built to rely on the trio of Jones, Bryant and Kilicli, but those three could really use some help.