West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Drexel Dragons Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 9th 2023


Between the sudden departure of its head coach, the frightening on-court collapse of a key player and the NCAA’s controversial denial of the eligibility of a star transfer, it’s been a tumultuous six months for West Virginia.

And the effects appear to have contributed to an uneven start for the Mountaineers.

West Virginia (3-5) will try to put it all aside and get its season on track when it hosts Drexel (5-4) Saturday in Morgantown, W. Va.

The Mountaineers had hoped for a fresh start on Wednesday when they hosted Backyard Brawl rival Pitt and welcomed back Akok Akok.

The Georgetown transfer had what the school termed a “medical emergency” when he crumpled to the floor during an exhibition game on Oct. 27.

Against Pitt, Akok gave West Virginia an emotional lift as he played eight minutes and blocked two shots. Quinn Slazinski scored 22 points and Jesse Edwards added 20.

But the Mountaineers were done in by Blake Hinson, who drained nine 3-pointers on the way to 29 points, as the Panthers pulled away in the second half for an 80-63 win.

“(Akok) gave us a defensive spark,” West Virginia coach Josh Eilert, who replaced Bob Huggins in the offseason. “We’re so happy for the kid.”

Eilert hopes for a happy ending for RaeQuan Battle, who averaged 17.7 points per game last year at Montana State, but has been denied a waiver to play because he is limited to one transfer as an undergraduate. Battle started his college career at Washington.

West Virginia remains hopeful that its appeal of the decision will eventually secure a waiver for Battle from the NCAA.

Drexel comes to West Virginia a week after pulling off a stunning upset of then-No. 18 Villanova, 57-55 last Saturday.

“We weren’t in awe, at all,” Drexel coach Zach Spiker said.

On Tuesday, undefeated Princeton brought visiting Drexel back down to earth with an 81-70 victory.

The Dragons were led by Justin Moore and Kobe MaGee, who scored 19 and 18 points, respectively.

Defensive-minded Drexel surrendered 57.6 percent shooting against Princeton. In their previous six games, the Dragons had not allowed an opponent to make better than 40 percent of its shots from the floor.

–Field Level Media

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