West Virginia hosts much-improved Rutgers Saturday at Coliseum
Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, January 13, 2012 04:01
The West Virginia men's basketball team will try returning to its winning ways Saturday when it hosts Rutgers at 2 p.m.
West Virginia defeated Rutgers 85-64 on Jan. 4, but the Scarlet Knights are fresh off a 62-39 rout of Pittsburgh on the road Wednesday.
"I worry about playing whoever we're playing," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "Rutgers obviously has played extremely well since they played us, and Mike (Brice) has done a fantastic job, and they compete so hard. They're always a very hard game, I've got great respect for what Mike's done."
West Virginia fell to No. 16 Connecticut Monday.
"We've had a whole bunch of just one-day preps, and it's particularly hard when you've got as many young guys as we do," Huggins said.
Since the loss to West Virginia, Rutgers hasn't only blown out Pittsburgh on the road but it also beat Connecticut 67-60.
Freshman guard Eli Carter leads Rutgers, scoring 14.2 points per game. Sophomore Gilvydas Biruta is scoring 10 points and getting 5.5 rebounds per game.
"There's no game that you can say, ‘OK, well, we're going to win this one.' You have to play really well to be able to win every night out, and that's just about everybody," Huggins said.
Huggins said he likes the way his team is progressing early in the season. He thought his team had control for most of Monday's loss to the Huskies.
"We're getting better. It's hard, with seven freshmen and a transfer, to try to run everything that you want to run, and do the things that you want to do, but I think we've made significant progress. We tried to play a pretty tough nonconference schedule to get ready for the Big East, and I really think that's helped," Huggins said. "We're taking baby steps, but we are getting better."
Seniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant continue to lead the Mountaineers.
Huggins said moving Bryant off the ball has allowed him to score more, but at times the senior has tried too hard to score.
Bryant is second on the team with 17.8 points per game, and has scored in double-figure scoring in all but the Connecticut game. He has scored more than 20 points in five games this season.
Jones leads the team with 19.9 points and 11.5 rebounds.
"KJ's one of those special guys that you just don't get very often," he said. "He knows that we need him to rebound the ball, and he's done a terrific job rebounding the ball for us. I think he said he got a little bit out of character the Connecticut game and that he was on the floor for a long period of time with four freshmen and felt like he had to make plays."