WVU travels to Miss St. for first road test
Published: Thursday, December 1, 2011
Updated: Friday, December 2, 2011 04:12
The West Virginia men's basketball team will have arguably its hardest test of the year Saturday when it travels to Mississippi State as part of the inaugural Big East/SEC Challenge.
Not only will it be the first road game for the bevy of newcomers, but the Mountaineers will face a Bulldog team that has wins over No. 18 Texas A&M and No. 19 Arizona. They haven't lost since Nov. 9, when they committed their only loss of the season to Akron.
"They're really good. They had a great tournament in New York (beating Texas A&M and Arizona)," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "They're big inside. They're very, very athletic."
Huggins said he hasn't talked to his team about their first road test.
"Maybe after the first timeout I will have a lot to say," he said. "I've always felt like the rims are still 10 feet, the foul line is still 15 feet, and those people in the stands haven't blocked a shot or scored a goal."
The Bulldogs are led by senior guard Dee Bost, who is averaging 17 points per game. The senior is also averaging 3.8 assists and just over two steals.
"Dee Bost is one of the better guards in the SEC," Huggins said.
Junior Arnett Moultrie and freshman Rodney Hood are also averaging double-figure scoring for Mississippi State. Moultrie is averaging 16 points and leads the team with 10.8 rebounds, while Hood is scoring 13 points per game.
"We have to rebound and hopefully not throw the ball to them," Huggins said. "I think we've been able to score okay if we haven't thrown the ball to the other team. We just can't turn it over. And (we need to) make some free throws."
Huggins said he thinks his team is a better free-throw team than what it's shooting right now – 59 percent.
"It's demoralizing. We miss free throws and easy shots. We miss follow shots," Huggins said. "I think it demoralizes as much as it does anything. Everyone drops their heads."
West Virginia is coming off of a 77-56 win Monday. It was a breakout performance for freshman Jabarie Hinds, who led the team with a career-high 19 points. Senior Kevin Jones followed with another double-double performance scoring 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Huggins hopes to carry over the fast-tempo victory spirit to Saturday night.
"We're going to try to get as many easy baskets as we can get," he said.
Rebounding and protecting the ball will be what's important for the Mountaineers, Huggins said.
Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m.