West Virginia coach John Beilein is quite familiar with his team’s next opponent.
The 25th-ranked Mountaineers go for their sixth straight win Friday when they host Canisius.
Beilein began his Division I coaching career at Canisius, spending five seasons there before moving onto Richmond. He was 89-62 leading the Golden Griffins from 1992-1997 and led Canisius to the NIT Final Four in 1995 and its last NCAA tournament appearance in 1996.
Current Golden Griffins coach Mike MacDonald, in his ninth season, served as an assistant under Beilein all five seasons before succeeding him for the 1997-98 season.
This will be the first time Beilein has faced his former school and assistant, but his current team is rolling.
The Mountaineers are coming off an impressive 92-68 win Dec. 22 over then-No. 7 Oklahoma. The victory was enough to boost West Virginia back into the Top 25 for the first time since late November. It was also the Mountaineers’ first victory over a ranked team this season. West Virginia was 0-2 going into the game, having previously lost to Texas and Kentucky.
“It felt like 10 years ago that we had beaten a really good team,” Beilein said. “We didn’t have that quality win yet.”
West Virginia shot 66.7 percent from the floor and held off a charge from the Sooners midway through the second half. Oklahoma cut the lead to 61-56 before the Mountaineers pulled away.
Kevin Pittsnogle scored 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting, and Johannes Herber had a career-high 21 points in the victory.
“I don’t know that we’ve had so many layups in a game,” said Herber, who was 9-for-13 from the field.
The shooting percentage was the second-best in school history, trailing only a 68.0 percent effort by the Mountaineers against Bowling Green in 1978.
“We played as good a basketball game as we’ve played in West Virginia uniforms against obviously a very good team,” Beilein said. “Hopefully in the long run if we can continue to win like this on the road it will make up for the Texas loss. It’s a good one for us, it’s a good one for the Big East and I’m sure glad we came out of here with a win.”
Canisius (1-7) is looking to avoid a third consecutive loss after its 69-56 defeat Dec. 22 to Boston University. The Golden Griffins tied the game at 49 in the second half, but failed to score for nearly six minutes as the Terriers went on a 10-0 run to take control.
“In the first half, I thought we took advantage of mismatches because our quick guys were taking advantage of their big guys,” MacDonald said. “In the second half, we let them abuse us inside a little. Our defense has got to be tougher.”
Jon Popofski went 4-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 12 points to lead Canisius, which hasn’t played a ranked team since Dec. 30, 2003, when they lost 87-70 to then-No. 17 Syracuse.
Kevin Downey leads the team in scoring at 16.0 points per game. He was held to eight against the Terriers, the first time in 27 games he didn’t reach double figures.
This is the beginning of a four-game road trip for the Griffins, who are 2-13 in non-conference games the past two seasons.
West Virginia leads the all-time series 4-1, but the teams haven’t met since 1959.