|Junior guard Juwan Staten is coming off a career high 22-point performance in Friday's season opener against Mount St. Mary's .
|All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Bob Huggins expects his young West Virginia team to face a highly motivated Virginia Tech squad on Tuesday afternoon when the two old rivals hook up in Blacksburg for a rare afternoon game as part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.
The Hokies (0-1) are coming off an 64-63 upset loss to South Carolina Upstate last Saturday at Cassell Coliseum. In a close affair in which both teams were never separated by more than six points, Virginia Tech got 18 points from senior guard Jarell Eddie while 6-foot-9-inch senior forward Cadarian Raines added a career-high 17 points – all of those coming in the second half.
“I don’t think there is any question they will come back with a lot more resolve,” said Huggins. “I would hope the few upperclassmen that we have they would convey that to the younger guys.”
The Hokies, under second-year coach James Johnson, are looking to find some offensive firepower and leadership lost with the departure of national scoring leader Erick Green, who averaged 25 points per game last season.
In addition to Eddie and Raines, the Hokies are expected to start 6-foot-8 forward Marshall Wood, 6-foot-1 guard Adam Smith and 6-foot-4 freshman guard Devin Wilson.
“I think they’re really good in transition and I think they shoot the ball really well,” said Huggins of Tech. “I think the last game they were probably a little bit like we were early on. We didn’t make any shots early. As I have said before, I thought we were very capable of making shots and we did and I think they’re very capable of making shots.”
West Virginia shot the ball extremely well in its season-opening, 77-62 victory over Mount St. Mary’s last Friday night at the Coliseum. West Virginia made 56 percent of its field goal attempts for the game and got a career-high 22 points from junior guard Juwan Staten
and 19 from sophomore guard Eron Harris
Freshman forward Nathan Adrian
contributed 11 points and freshman forward Brandon Watkins
was a surprise contributor coming off the bench, adding 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
“We were fortunate that we made some shots and we all know there are going to be games when those shots don’t go down, so we’re going to have to stop people,” said Huggins. “What’s so disappointing is that people have gotten so many second shots and so many second opportunities because we haven’t rebounded the ball.”
Huggins said he is looking to clean up those two areas tomorrow afternoon against the Hokies.
“I think we have to defend a whole heck of a lot better than what we defended, and we have to rebound the ball a whole lot better than we rebounded the ball,” the coach pointed out. “Those are the two things we’ve done over the years probably better than most, and we’re not doing it as well as virtually anybody right now.”
Two players Huggins believes have the potential to rebound the ball for the Mountaineers are freshmen forwards Devin Williams
and Nate Adrian. Williams pulled down 14 rebounds in the exhibition win against Fairmont State, but had just one rebound last Friday against Mount St. Mary’s.
“We recruited Devin Williams
thinking he would do what he did the Fairmont game – get a bunch of rebounds for us,” said Huggins. “Nate has got good hands and Nate ought to rebound it a little bit better than what’s he’s rebounding it. Certainly our guards have rebounded it in the past.
“We are going to have to team rebound,” Huggins added. “We don’t have the one guy who is going to go and get you whatever … 12 to 13 a game. We’ve been in that situation a lot of times and we just didn’t do that.”
Huggins said sophomore guard Terry Henderson
, who missed both the exhibition game and last Friday’s season opener with shin inflammation, was only able to practice about 10 minutes this morning before the team left for Blacksburg. Huggins didn’t sound too confident that Henderson would be ready to go for tomorrow’s game.
“That’s not enough to know what he needs to know,” said Huggins.
With Henderson doubtful, that means West Virginia will once again have a small bench available for tomorrow’s game. Nine players saw action against Mount St. Mary’s last Friday.
West Virginia and Virginia Tech have played 76 times with the Mountaineers owning a 47-29 advantage in series play. West Virginia has won seven out of the last 10 meetings, including last year’s buzzer-beating, 68-67 victory over the Hokies in Morgantown.