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Rejuvenated Mountaineers host VMI at Civic Center

Charleston Gazette photo by Kenny Kemp  West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins holds court with the media at courtside at Tuesday’s practice at the Civic Center.
Charleston Gazette photo by Kenny Kemp
West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins holds court with the media at courtside at Tuesday’s practice at the Civic Center.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When former South Charleston and George Washington high school standouts Ot and Jon Elmore withdrew from VMI, a bit of the air left today’s Keydet game against WVU at the Charleston Civic Center.

The Mountaineers’ success in Puerto Rico, however, has pumped excitement back into the game.

After winning the Puerto Rico Tip-off tournament title by beating defending national champion Connecticut, West Virginia has been ranked No. 21 in the latest Associated Press poll.

Today the Mountaineers host VMI (2-2) at 7:30 p.m., and while the sights around Charleston might not rival those of San Juan, it is another new experience for most of WVU’s players.

“We haven’t really talked about the Civic Center because we were focused in on Puerto Rico,” said Mountaineer senior and Big 12 preseason player of the year Juwan Staten. “I’m pretty sure they’ll hear, though. We’ll definitely tell them what happens in this building. It’s something they’ll have to experience.”

WVU will also play at the venue at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 14 against Marshall. Those teams square off annually in the Civic Center.

“It gets kind of crazy,” Staten said. “I know it is for Marshall. I don’t know how it will be for VMI, but the Charleston fans usually show us great support.”

That support is expected to swell after the Mountaineers moved to 5-0 after defeating George Mason, Boston College and Connecticut over last weekend…

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