Huggins: WVU ‘Close’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Most teams holding down last place in a league aren’t really close to anything, other than the cellar door. Don’t tell that to head coach Bob Huggins, however.
The veteran head coach, who admittedly has a much different team than the one that was being blown out by 20-30 points during an awful mid-season stretch, is optimistic that his team can play with anyone in the Big 12 Championship. His team’s first chance to do that comes on Wednesday night at approximately 9:30 ET, when it takes on Oklahoma (19-12, 7-11) at the Sprint Center. The Mountaineers are far back at 12-19, 4-14.
“We’re close. We think we can play with anybody,” he said of his team that, while lacking experience, has enjoyed a burst of youthful enthusiasm that has made its play more watchable, if not always victorious. “We just can’t make the mistakes we make at the end of games. I think that comes with experience.”
West Virginia’s callow roster has been gaining in that regard, but that particular monster still rears its head at inopportune times. Those often spark the lengthy scoring droughts that have cost WVU chances at several wins, particularly in the waning moments of contests. Working through that is often simply a matter of time, and more games, which is one of the reasons Huggins has lined his team up for participation in the CBI if a remarkable run in the Big 12 doesn’t materialize. There’s no predicting how long it takes a team to become more proficient as it works from youthful inexperience to veteran savvy, and there’s not set timetable for each player, let alone the entire team.
Still, Huggins sees one trait that he believes will help, even if the payoffs aren’t immediate.
“These guys have a lot of confidence in their ability to win games. I think that has been the focus,” he stated plainly. “They like playing. The majority of our team has basically played half a year, because they didn’t play much early on. They are excited about playing.”
Trey Doomes made a late appearance at the Sprint Center practice, but did not participate. He reportedly absorbed a shot to the face during WVU’s earlier practice at a local college.
“He is going to have a fat lip. But that won’t keep him from playing,” Huggins said.
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Taevon Horton, still suffering from the effects of a head injury, did not make the trip to Kansas City.
“I wish he could have been here,” assistant coach Ron Everhart said. “This would have been a good experience for him.
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West Virginia is the only Big 12 team outside the top 100 of the NET ratings. The Mountaineers are 110 — 28 spots behind Oklahoma State. WVU’s schedule was the 11th toughest in the nation, and the Mountaineers are one of five Big 12 teams so ranked in the top 18 in the country