MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – John Flowers said he would give reporters some soundbites if they wanted them on Monday.
“I don’t even know why this is a conversation. The Herd, like, they don’t have any alumni. Ot Elmore retired five years ago, you know. So, I don’t really know,” said Flowers. “It’s no competition. We’re going to kill them. It’s going to be a good game, you know, but we’re going to kill them.”
Flowers, Best Virginia’s emotional leader, gave the soundbite with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
Regardless of the seriousness of the quote, it has stoked the West Virginia-Marshall fire like it hasn’t been stoked since 2018.
Best Virginia, the West Virginia University men’s basketball alumni squad, will face Marshall alumni group, Herd That, inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center Tuesday night.
The game comes in the second round of the West Virginia Regional of The Basketball Tournament. It will not only be played with the chance to continue competing for the $1 million grand prize at stake, but state bragging rights and rivalry bragging rights will be on the line, as well.
“The Herd sucks!” Flowers added, followed by a big grin to show he was joking.
Flowers knows a game like this is good for the state of West Virginia, the place he called home for four years.
Even in the moments leading up to his “The Herd sucks!” comment, he was saying: “Jon and Ot (Elmore), they’re like brothers. We see each other a lot. We talk a lot about overseas experiences. … Honestly, I just want to help those guys. Anybody in West Virginia I want to help be successful.”
Best Virginia was very successful in the third quarter of its TBT 2022 opening round game Sunday.
Top-seeded Best Virginia outscored eighth-seeded Virginia Dream 25-6 in the period to extend what was a five-point halftime lead to 24 points. The group of former Mountaineers went on to grab a 75-45 victory on a Juwan Staten free throw.
Kevin Jones led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds, helping secure a second-round matchup against the Marshall alumni squad.
“It’s a big rivalry, man. I’m glad it was able to happen,” Jones said of the upcoming contest. “Neither side is going to back down. I’m very excited about it.”
Power forward Justin Johnson, one of five Herd That players who never played at Marshall during his collegiate career, paced Herd That in scoring on Sunday. Johnson tallied a team-high 17 points, and also grabbed seven rebounds.
Three other Herd That players finished with at least 11 points in their win over the fifth-seeded Founding Fathers.
Jones was one of four Best Virginia players who tallied double-digit points on Sunday.
Defensively, Best Virginia appears to be the better team through the first round of play. The WVU alums allowed just 45 points, blocked four shots, and collected seven steals. Both Best Virginia and Herd That were outrebounded in their victories.
Flowers pointed to the Elmore brothers as the difference makers for Herd That.
Specifically, Flowers said he and Best Virginia will have to worry about guarding Jon, who scored seven points and dished out six assists on Sunday. Another concern is not letting Ot heat up from beyond the arc.
The oldest Elmore brother was 0-for-1 from distance in Herd That’s TBT opener.
Tip-off between Best Virginia and Herd That is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center in Charleston, West Virginia.
The game will be televised on ESPN3.
The winner of this game advances to the West Virginia Regional Finals on Wednesday. The Best Virginia/Herd That winner will take on either the No. 2 seeded Bucketneers (East Tennessee State alumni) or No. 6 seeded War Ready (Auburn Alumni).