CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The difference between winning and losing in today's Mountain East Conference men's basketball meeting between West Virginia State and the University of Charleston could be determined by turnovers.
The Yellow Jackets (7-6, 4-6 MEC) and Golden Eagles (10-4, 6-3) face each other for the first time as MEC members tonight at 7:30 at Eddie King Gym.
Charleston is second in the league in turnover margin, trailing only unbeaten West Liberty.
"I think that'll be a huge part of the game," said first-year UC coach Dwaine Osborne, who was 0-7 during his time at Glenville (2005-09) against Bryan Poore's Yellow Jackets, including two by a combined 13 points in Osborne's 20-win season in 2008-09.
"They force turnovers and we have done a pretty good job of taking care of the ball. Us valuing the ball is going to be important."
The Golden Eagles are 8-1 in games they had a positive turnover differential and had just one more turnover than the Hilltoppers in their 89-76 loss on Nov. 23. Since the beginning of its five-game winning streak on Jan. 6, UC has only 38 turnovers - an average of 7.6 - with only one in a 79-67 victory over University of Virginia at Wise on Saturday.
"They execute their stuff really well," State coach Bryan Poore said of the Golden Eagles. "They get the right people the right shots for the most part."
State has bucked that trend with a 4-2 mark in games during which it had more turnovers than its opponent.
Poore said his team needs to cut down on its turnovers, but also must rebound better.
"You're giving the opponent more possessions," said Poore, whose team is next-to-last in the MEC in rebounding margin. "We talk about both of these things (turnovers and rebounding). Sometimes our guys are so aggressive they want to make something be there. It just comes with experience."