West Virginia looks to get back on winning track against Baylor
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 01:02
With any remaining postseason hopes quickly fading, the West Virginia men’s basketball team will try to snap its two-game losing streak against Baylor tomorrow night at the WVU Coliseum in the Mountaineers’ second-to-last home game of the season.
West Virginia (13-14, 6-8) is 0-2 all time against Baylor (16-11, 7-7), which includes a 20-point beat down at the hands of the Bears just 13 days ago.
"The thing that we should be doing is getting hungrier from these losses," said sophomore forward Kevin Noreen after WVU’s last game. "And that should be motivation to go into practice harder and play harder. Huggs always tells us about his teams in Cincinnati – that if you lose a game you wouldn’t want to be the opposing team the game after. I don’t think he ever lost three games in a row there, and we’ve done that. There’s just no fight with us."
West Virginia holds a 128-33 all-time record against opposing teams in their first trip to the WVU Coliseum, but it hasn’t been as intimidating a venue this season as the Mountaineers are just 5-4 against teams in their inaugural visit to Morgantown this year.
Baylor features three players who are averaging double-figures on the year – senior guard Pierre Jackson (19.2), freshman center Isaiah Austin (13.4) and junior forward Cory Jefferson (12.0).
Junior guard Brady Heslip is narrowly excluded from that group of double-figure scorers at only 9.0 ppg, but the long-range shooter had his second-best performance of the entire season against the Mountaineers less than two weeks ago, when Heslip connected on 7 of 10 from the field, including an impressive 6 of 9 from behind the arc for 20 points in 33 minutes.
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, are still one of the only Division I teams without a single player that’s averaging double-digits on the season, though freshman guard Eron Harris is averaging 11.1 ppg in 14 conference games.
Many of the Mountaineers’ problems this year have directly stemmed from this blatant lack of offense, as WVU is 5-1 in games in which it scores at least 70 points and just 1-6 in games in which it scores fewer than 60.
The absence of effective offense isn’t just due to missed shots, either, as both Huggins and some of his players have claimed even today there are sophomore players – starters, perhaps – who have "no idea" where they are supposed to be aligned for even some of the most basic set plays.
"We can’t run a set, because I have guys that have been here for two years that don’t know what they’re doing," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "(They) don’t have any idea what they’re doing. It’s totally inexcusable.
"I can’t call a set unless I have certain guys on the floor that know what they’re doing. If I make a substitution, we can’t run a set, because we’re going to have one guy who’s going to stand somewhere where he’s not supposed to stand and screw everything up. It’s inexcusable, totally inexcusable, when they have the resources that they have, to be able to go watch things and look at things and learn things."
The Mountaineers are in the midst of a streak of five straight NCAA tournament selections, and nine straight postseason appearances overall, but it’s a streak that’s in dire jeopardy.
"People expect excellence, and we’re not providing that," Noreen said. "It’s hard to go to class; it’s hard to walk around. There’s really nothing right now that we can hang our hats on. And like I said before, something has to change."
Speaking of change, Huggins has tried myriad starters (12) and lineup combinations (11) this season, but no particular combination has yet yielded consistent results.
"It’s kind of like if you’re a supervisor and you’ve got a guy that won’t do right, and you say, ‘You’re out’, put another guy in, and he won’t do right," Huggins said. "And you put in another guy, and he won’t do right. And you put another guy in, and he won’t do right.
"And then you just kind of throw up your hands and say, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ That’s kind of how I feel."
Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.