CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The last 13 times West Virginia and Marshall have played, the game was decided by fewer than 10 points 11 times - and one of the exceptions was an 11-point victory by the Mountaineers in 2009.
History suggests tonight's 7:30 Capital Classic inside the Civic Center (WOWK) will add to the list.
"It's hard," said WVU Coach Bob Huggins, who is 4-1 against Marshall with a 3-1 record with the Mountaineers. "It's hard when you have that much emotion involved, and honestly, when you have (210) fouls called in four years, it's hard to get in any flow."
There's more than history, though. The events of this season suggest it's going to be difficult to keep the two apart.
WVU averages 75.4 points, just two baskets more than Marshall. The Mountaineers allow opponents to score 65.7 points per game and shoot 43.7 percent from the floor. Marshall's opponents score 64.5 points and shoot 43.5 percent.
They also share weaknesses. WVU turns it over 14.4 times per game, Marshall 14.2. WVU shoots 63.5 percent at the free-throw line. Marshall shoots 60.6. That could be an issue given the glut of fouls the past four seasons.
"You have to call fouls when fouls are there," Huggins said. "You don't have to take it to the extreme. Go back and look at the tape. There's a whole lot of fouls. I hope if we foul a lot they call a lot of fouls on us and if they foul a lot they call a lot of fouls on them. You hope at the end of the day they don't try to make it even and call fouls that aren't there."
Marshall (13-4) has won 7 of 10 games decided by 10 points or fewer and is 5-3 in games decided by five or fewer points. The Mountaineers (13-5) are 3-3 and 2-1.
The Thundering Herd has a four-game winning streak and won the past three games by a combined five points. WVU has had its highest high (85-80 double overtime win against Kansas State) and lowest low (64-57 loss against Connecticut) in the close games.
The Mountaineers survived 17 ties and nine lead changes in Manhattan, Kan., but built and lost a 10-point lead in the second half at UConn. Even if WVU expects another close game, the coach said he doesn't know what to expect from his team.