Mountaineers look to rebound from Kent State against Alcorn State
Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 23:11
The last time West Virginia lost a home nonconference game was in 2006 when it lost in overtime to LSU. The next time the Mountaineers played at the Coliseum, they pounded an overmatched Washington & Jefferson team 83-33.
Thursday the Mountaineers hope to have a similar bounceback performance when Alcorn State comes to Morgantown.
But if they want to come back with a win, the players know they can't think about Tuesday's loss to Kent State.
"You definitely don't want to lose a home game – especially to a nonconference team," said senior forward Kevin Jones. "Hopefully we come out with a bunch of energy and just keep it going. We can't dwell on the past; we've got to keep on moving."
In its first game of the season, Alcorn State beat Blue Mountain College, 76-39. It was the first career win for first-year head coach Luther Riley.
JaMichael Hawkins, a freshman from Jackson, Miss., led the Braves in scoring with 17 points.
"I don't really know that much about Alcorn State," Jones said. "We're going to try to prepare as well as possible and (we've) just got to get this (loss) out of our minds because we have a young team, so we can't dwell on this game."
The Mountaineers enter the game 1-1 following the tough loss to the Golden Flashes earlier in the week. With such a young roster, head coach Bob Huggins has been using the first few games to slowly make improvements in the areas where the team has struggled.
In its season opener last week against Oral Roberts, West Virginia was outrebounded 37-24 by the Golden Eagles.
Tuesday they were able to fix that problem against Kent State, winning the rebounding margin 46-31. It's something the Mountaineers feel they can do more consistently, much like they did last season.
"We can do that every game. We have the athleticism, we have the size," Jones said. "We need everybody to crash the glass, and I feel like we're at our best when we're doing that."
Now that it seems like WVU has made strides in fixing the rebounding problem that existed in the season opener, there's still a lot left to improve.
Through two games, the Mountaineers have averaged 19 turnovers per game and 44 percent from the field. They're also shooting just 64 percent from the foul line.
Those problems were very crucial in Tuesday's loss.
"You look at the stats, and you outrebounded them by 15, but we lose by 10, so you know it's other factors contributing to our loss," Jones said. "You just think back, and if we could have made some more of our free throws and not turn the ball over, this could have been a totally different game, and we've got to work on that.
"We've got to keep on getting better."