’Eers to face Hoyas in first round of the NIT

MORGANTOWN -When West Virginia left the Big East for the greener pastures offered by the Big 12 Conference, fans complained about the loss of rivalry games the Mountaineers would suffer.

One of those will be relived at 7 p.m. today as WVU (17-15) takes on Georgetown (17-14) in the nation’s capital in an opening round game of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).

“We’re happy to be able to continue to play in the postseason,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.

Both teams are coming off of disappointing first round losses in conference tournament play. WVU fell behind early in dropping a 66-49 loss to Texas in the Big 12 Tournament while the Hoyas were ousted from the ‘new’ Big East tournament by DePaul.

The game will feature the top point guards in both conferences as Georgetown’s Markel Starks was selected first team all-Big East after leading the Hoyas in points (17.1 ppg) and assists (124).

Those numbers are similar to those posted by WVU junior Juwan Staten, who missed much of the second half of the Texas game with a sprained ankle. He still leads the Mountaineers in scoring at 18 points per game.

Sophomore D’Vaunt Smith-Rivera (17.0 ppg) will join Starks in Georgetown’s starting five as will juniors Jabril Trawick (8.8), and Mikael Hopkins and senior Nate Lubick (5.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg).