No major conference college basketball team travels as much as West Virginia does just for conference play.
In the Big 12, Morgantown is not close to any other conference team. The closet Big 12 road game the Mountaineers play each season is against Kansas in Lawrence. Even that is an 817 mile trip.
The Mountaineers have struggled on the road in conference so far this season, winning only one of their five road games in conference. WVU coach Bob Huggins said that the travel is not an excuse, but it is a factor.
“It’s a grind,” Huggins said after losing at Oklahoma Saturday. “Not to make an excuse, I think it’s true that fact that our travel’s tough, it’s tough. It’s tough on me and I don’t play, I can imagine those guys.”
West Virginia’s furthest trip each season is going to Lubbock, Texas: to play Texas Tech, 1,280 miles. The team made that trip on Jan. 29 and lost 89-81.
“We get back from Lubbock at five in the morning and they’ve got school and study hall and all those things,” Huggins explained. “And we’ve got good guys, they go to class, they go to study hall, they do what they’re supposed to do. It’s not easy. That’s not an excuse that’s just a fact.”
Senior guard Jermaine Haley went through the Big 12 schedule last season, a year in which the Mountaineers did not win a single road conference game.
“That’s kind of been the story of our season on the road, just coming out flat,” Haley said. “We’ve got to execute and have that same intensity as soon as the game tips off...It’s difficult, it always hurts especially when they’re teams we’re supposed to beat.”
While they struggle on the road, the Mountaineers are perfect at home, winning all 12 game played at the Coliseum this season. Haley said if they cannot win on the road, they have to keep winning at home.
“I know eventually we’ll get a win and we’ll get rolling but as long as we get back to Morgantown and taking care of the house I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Even in his first season, freshman Miles McBride has realized how tough traveling can be.
“I think it’s about attitude and effort,” McBride said. “Being at home you’re more comfortable, you know everything around you, you’re good with the setting. Here you’re dealing with a lot of traveling, everything like that.”
West Virginia has four Big 12 road game left on the schedule. Their next away game will be in Waco, Texas against the No. 1 Baylor Bears, a trip that will be 1,111 miles.