West Virginia travels to South Florida for regular season finale
Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 2, 2012 02:03
The West Virginia men's basketball team will be playing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament Saturday when it travels to Tampa, Fla., to take on South Florida for the regular season finale.
South Florida, coming off an upset win against No. 18 Louisville, is one of a handful of teams from the Big East on the bubble and wants a win to solidify its tournament resume.
"They're playing for something as well as we are," said West Virginia senior Kevin Jones. "The hungrier team is going to win. They're going to have a great home crowd. They're a senior-laden team and looking to get into the NCAA Tournament for I don't know how long.
"It should be a great game."
After the victory against DePaul Tuesday, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said he wasn't sure if his team needed any more wins to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament, but said he would feel a whole lot more comfortable with a win Saturday.
"I think we're in pretty good shape," he said.
The Bulls have been the upstart team in the Big East. After being picked to finish No. 14 during the preseason, they have soared to the top, currently ranked No. 5.
South Florida doesn't have a scorer averaging double figures in any category, but it has six players averaging at least seven points.
Senior Augustus Gilchrist leads the team with 9.9 points per game, while junior Jawanza Poland is scoring 9.1 points.
Saturday's game could be a defensive battle, though. The Bulls rank No. 320 scoring 60.1 points. They have scored more than 60 points just twice since the start of February.
Jones said that he prefers high-scoring games and thinks it helps the team's defensive effort.
"We don't have to grind it out as much," Jones said. "When we're rolling offensively, we're a very hard team to beat."
The Bulls beat Louisville by scoring just 58 points and beat Cincinnati three days before with only 46 points.
West Virginia has scored less than 60 points just three times since Jan. 4 and is coming off a 92-point performance against DePaul – its second best this season.
Kevin Jones continues to lead West Virginia with 20 points and 11.2 rebounds, while Truck Bryant is second on the team in scoring with 17.1.
Bryant is coming off a 28-point performance against DePaul. He scored 25 points the game before against No. 10 Marquette. It's the most points Bryant has scored in back-to-back games since the Jan. 4 game against Rutgers and the Jan. 7 game against Georgetown.
"We have to be hungry," Bryant said. "We're about to play a good team. That's a huge game for us. That's a game we need to win, and we will be ready to play."
Huggins said that it was nice to see his senior guard snap out of a funk that plagued him for much of February, but wasn't ready to celebrate that it was over.
"Shooting kind of comes and goes," Huggins said. "It wasn't because he wasn't working on shooting when he was shooting it bad. He was putting the time in. I thought he was more diverse in his offense (against DePaul)."
Tip-off for Saturday's game is scheduled for noon.