WVU endures its share of struggles in Big 12
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The hangover experienced by West Virginia's football team during its inaugural Big 12 season has extended to basketball.
Football coach Dana Holgorsen returned to the drawing board following a 7-6 campaign despite a 5-0 start.
Holgorsen changed defensive coordinators and fired two other defensive coaches after the Mountaineers finished 119th out of 120 FBS teams in pass defense.
Similarly, basketball coach Bob Huggins expressed frustration following last week's 69-67 loss at Iowa State, WVU's third setback in its first four league games.
The Mountaineers lost to Iowa State on a layup at the buzzer, but their comeback late in the game may have revealed a strategy that could be used again Wednesday against TCU at WVU Coliseum.
During the preseason, Huggins suggested changes were coming.
“We're going to try to play a little faster,” Huggins said in October. “I'd actually like to see us score once in a while. We've struggled with that. But we haven't played very fast. We're going to try to up the tempo and maybe do some of the things we did when I was at Cincinnati.”
Huggins' teams at Cincinnati qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 14 consecutive seasons. Huggins has guided WVU to the NCAAs in each of his first five seasons. WVU (8-9) and TCU (9-9) are struggling as first-year Big 12 members. The Mountaineers are 1-3 in league play. TCU is 0-5.
The Mountaineers rank eighth among 10 Big 12 teams in scoring (67.0 points); they're last in field-goal percentage (39.1).
“We find different ways to shoot ourselves in the foot,” Huggins said. “If we shoot OK from the field, we can't make a foul shot. If we make foul shots, we can't shoot it from the field.”
Huggins decided to switch to an unconventional four-guard lineup against Iowa State. Trailing by 18 points with nine minutes remaining, West Virginia rallied behind the long-range shooting of newcomers Eron Harris and Matt Humphrey and sophomore Jabarie Hinds.
WVU drilled nine of 12 3-pointers after missing its first 12 3's to tie the score at 67 on Hinds' 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds left.
“We talk constantly to them,” Huggins said. “If you're talking about bringing somebody in to inspire them, I don't think that'll work.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.
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