West Virginia looks to end losing ways in Backyard Brawl
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 30, 2012 01:01
Nobody ever feels good after losing two games in a row.
But, after its two-point loss to No. 3 Syracuse, West Virginia was able to find some positives as it heads into the Backyard Brawl against Pittsburgh.
"I like the way we controlled the tempo all night," said senior guard Truck Bryant. "We controlled the game the whole time. We did some good things that we can do better to grow now."
In their losses to the Orange and St. John's, the Mountaineers turned the ball over 17 and 14 times, respectively.
WVU had more turnovers than assists in both games – the first two times it's done that in back-to-back games since it played Mississippi State and Kansas State in December.
"Every turnover is costly. It hurts," said head coach Bob Huggins.
The Mountaineers can take a lot from these two losses – especially the freshmen.
It's a message the upperclassmen like Bryant, senior Kevin Jones and junior Deniz Kilicli already know, but it's going to be something that is valuable for this young WVU team to find out.
"The Big East can be rough at times," Bryant said. "That's what we learned (from the two losses), and we've just got to get ready for Monday's game.
"It's a grind in the Big East every day. We've really just got to get back to the drawing board."
While West Virginia will be entering Monday's game coming off of two tough losses on the road, Pittsburgh will be heading down to Morgantown on its first winning streak since it beat South Carolina State and St. Francis (Pa.) back-to-back in December.
The Panthers have won two of their three games since junior point guard Tray Woodall returned to the lineup after missing 11 games due to injury.
Their offense has been much better with Woodall in the lineup than when he's been out.
In games when he has played, Pitt is averaging 76.5 points per game, but in the 11 games he missed, it averaged a little more than 66 points per game.
"They're tough," Jones said of Pittsburgh. "They have Travon (Tray) Woodall back, and he's their point guard, so their offense is going to run a little bit better. They're going to be able to score a little bit better."
Huggins said it's going to be important for his team to come out, and get the win at home against the Panthers, especially after an impressive effort against the Orange during the weekend.
But they need to get back on track.
"I thought we played well (Saturday). That doesn't excuse Wednesday," Huggins said.
"I told them because we didn't come to play Wednesday (against St. John's), we put ourselves in a heck of a hole."