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West Virginia men's basketball team has little or no room for error

When West Virginia hosts DePaul on Senior Night, expect a bunch of freshmen to be the most motivated players on the floor.

Coach Bob Huggins, whose postgame rant about his underclassmen this weekend was as refreshing as it was candid, will accept nothing less.

"I don't run socialism," he said. "We're not going to have five or six guys work so the rest of them can have a good time."

The Mountaineers (17-12, 7-9) need to work as one. They are on the NCAA Tournament bubble heading into the final week against DePaul and at fellow at-large hopeful South Florida.

Tonight will be the final home game for seniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant.

"KJ has had a great senior year," Huggins said. "If he's not the player of the year in the league, there needs to be an investigation."

If West Virginia, currently a No. 12 seed and one of the last six at-large teams in Joe Lunardi's ESPN Bracketology, loses either game, then a Huggins-coached team will likely miss the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in the past 20 years.

The Mountaineers need a sweep to get to 9-9 in the league. No Big East team has received an at-large bid with a losing league record since 1994. Huggins said he thinks a .500 mark will be good enough, regardless of what happens at Madison Square Garden.

West Virginia has wins over Kansas State, Miami (Fla.) and Georgetown, but it has dropped seven of its past nine games.

Huggins ripped into his younger players after a 61-60 loss to visiting No. 10 Marquette on Friday. The 30th-year coach questioned the defensive effort of his freshmen. He said there is "a whole bunch of them that we ought to take the price of season tickets out of their scholarship because they've stood and watched the whole year."

Huggins also said "I despise cowards," referring to high-major scholarship players who avoid taking charges.

Said Huggins, "This is as frustrated as I've been since my first year at Walsh College, when I went home and asked my wife, 'Do you think I could sell insurance• Because I can't do this. I can't lose like this.' It just eats me up. I can't do it. And these guys, it seemingly doesn't bother them much."

District schedule

MEN

DePaul at West Virginia

When/where: 7 p.m. Tuesday/WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, W. Va.

On air: Root Sports/WBGG-AM (970)

Records: DePaul 11-17, 2-14 Big East; West Virginia 17-12, 7-9

Series: WVU leads, 6-1

Line: WVU by 14

Of note: DePaul is allowing a Big East-worst 76.7 points per game, including 81.4 in league games.

Players to watch

DePaul: Cleveland Melvin, So., F — Fourth in the Big East in scoring with 17.4 points per game.

West Virginia: Truck Bryant, Sr., G — Ranks seventh in conference games in scoring with 16.8 per game.

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