WVU travels to Purdue for last nonconference game of the season
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 01:01
If there has ever been a must-win game for the West Virginia men’s basketball team, it’s the one Saturday.
The Mountaineers have lost three of their last four games and find themselves without a winning record this late in the season for the first time in a decade.
West Virginia (8-8, 1-3) will get a chance to climb back over the .500 mark with a rare mid-season nonconference road game against Purdue (9-8, 3-2) Saturday afternoon.
The Mountaineers are coming off a deflating 69-67 road loss to Iowa State after erasing an 18-point deficit to tie the game with less than 12 seconds to play before allowing the eventual game-winning bucket by the Cyclones.
"We just continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by not making rotations," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins after the Iowa State game. "We keep trusting guys and keep trying to play guys and we can’t play them."
Huggins has been frustrated with the performance of his frontcourt. The style of play in the Big 12 Conference is contradictory to that in the Big East Conference, given that most teams have oriented their offenses around guards rather than big men.
Purdue may not run a four-guard-out offense, but five of the Boilermakers’ top six scorers are backcourt players.
"We’re going to have to play small," Huggins said. "We’re going to have to change our personnel ... They’ve (the big guys) had ample opportunity. They’ve had over half the season. How could it be any worse? We’re one and three. How could it be any worse?"
Purdue comes into the matchup having won two straight conference games. The only two losses for the Boilermakers in Big 10 Conference play this season has been at the hands of No. 18 Michigan State and No. 15 Ohio State.
With the multiple lineups Huggins has shown in recent games, Purdue may not know which personnel will be on the floor for the Mountaineers come Saturday.
In Wednesday’s game against Iowa State, senior guard and Boston College transfer Matt Humphrey saw action for the first time since Dec. 22.
Humphrey performed well, tallying 9 points on three 3-pointers.
"Sitting over there has given Matt a greater appreciation for being on the floor," Huggins
said. "Therefore, he’s accepted his role a little bit better."
This will be the third time in the last four seasons West Virginia and Purdue have met on the hardwood, with the teams splitting the first two matchups.
The Boilermakers were in the top 10 in each of those meetings.
Even though Purdue may be rebuilding this season, a road game in Big 10 country is a difficult place to earn a victory.
"We’re going to play one big and switch everything … We’re really small but we’ll front everything down there and switch back when we can switch back," Huggins said.