Huggs: Big 12 'Terrific' Aiding WVU Travel

With life in the Big 12 came a difficult challenge for West Virginia athletics. Morgantown is at least 800 miles away from every other school in the conference, making trips a bit longer than they had been in the past.

But in the Mountaineers' second year in their new conference, things have started to get a little easier. West Virginia still has two long road trips where it will play back-to-back games away from Morgantown, but it's preparing to wrap up the first of those tonight against Texas Tech - before the team has to start classes for the second semester.

With the league's help, WVU won't have to worry about the team returning home late and have to live up to their academic requirements the next day until it hits the road at the end of this month for games against Oklahoma State and Baylor.

"The league's been terrific," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins Monday on the Big 12 Coaches Teleconference. "We've got two trips where we're going to stay out and play, so that helps us a bunch.

"I think there's a couple of little things we can do that will help everybody. You can't say enough about how good the league has been about helping us with our travel issues."

The Mountaineers finished 3-9 on the road last season, losing six games away from home during Big 12 play.

Harris, Staten emerging as two of Big 12's best

Last season, West Virginia struggled to have any players stand out - let alone have a few be considered as some of the conference's best players.

No Mountaineers averaged double figures scoring, with Eron Harris leading the team with 9.8 points per game, while Juwan Staten led WVU with 3.2 assists per game and 7.6 point per contest.

Those two have made major strides this season and are quickly beginning to be recognized as two of the most dangerous players in a talented Big 12 Conference.

Harris leads the conference in scoring, averaging 18.6 points per game, and has been a consistent threat to score in bunches early in the season for WVU. The sophomore was forced to come off the bench against TCU Saturday after battling the flu last week, but still played 33 minutes and scored 22 points (his fifth time scoring 20 or more points in a game this season).

"He's been pretty good all year," Huggins said. "He had a great game against Wisconsin in Cancun. He's been very god all year. He's probably been as consistent shooting the ball and getting to the foul line as anybody on our team and maybe even in the league."

Staten has been equally as impressive leading the Mountaineer offense. The Dayton, Ohio, native is the only player in the nation currently averaging 16 points, six rebounds and six assists per game.

It's a big change after his struggles a year ago when he was adjusting to WVU and the Big 12.

"He's always been a talented guy. He's just immersed himself in basketball," Huggins said of his junior point guard. "He's studied film and has come over to my house wanting film of (former Cincinnati and Los Angeles Lakers point guard Nick) Van Exel and film of (former Cincinnati point guard Steve) Logan - the guys I've had in the past that have been very successful.

"He's a guy who really studies the opponent and has really studied our playbook. He's just done a great job. He's as knowledgable about what we're doing as, probably, anyone I've ever had."

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