WVU Looks to Start NIT Run Tuesday

The goal is quite simple for the West Virginia basketball team as it gets ready to hit the road to take on Georgetown Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT.

"We want to win," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "We want to win and end the season on a positive note and use it as a springboard into next year."

The two familiar foes will square off in Georgetown's on-campus venue at McDonogh Arena, which seats just 2,500 fans instead of the Verizon Center where the Hoyas and Mountaineers have squared off in each meeting the schools have had in Washington, D.C., since 2006.

"We've never played there," Huggins said. "I have no idea (what the venue will be like). I imagine it will be pretty wild.

"We're going to try to worry about doing the things that we need to do (to be successful)," Huggins said. "When we used to play them in the league, you had two or three days to prepare."

West Virginia has won each of the last five games between the two schools, the last meeting coming on Jan. 7, 2012 when the Mountaineers beat a then-No. 9 Hoya team 74-62 at the Coliseum. In the all-time series, the Mountaineers are 9-16 in road games against Georgetown.

This will be West Virginia's first trip to the NIT since winning the tournament in 2007 - which was also the last time Huggins went to the tournament in his only season at Kansas State.

This is the fourth time during his 32-year career that the veteran head coach will be going to the tournament. The year after his Cincinnati team was bounced in the second round of the NIT in 1990-91, Huggins' Bearcat team (although he noted the roster looked much different the following season) made a trip to the Final Four.

"I don't know if I've ever been in this situation before," Huggins said. "Any time you get more practice with your guys, more game experience, it's going to help."

But if the Mountaineers want to make a run in the NIT, they will have to do it by getting some wins on the road. West Virginia struggled on the road this season, finishing 3-8 in true away games.

WVU hasn't played a road NIT game since it lost to Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., in 2004.

"We don't have any control over that. I've learned over the years that you try to control the things you can control, and do a good job of controlling those," Huggins said. "You can't worry about the things you can't control."

Huggins said that first team all-Big 12 point guard Juwan Staten did not practice Sunday after leaving Thursday's Big 12 tournament loss to Texas with an ankle injury.

"He didn't go yesterday. There's no swelling but other than that, I don't know," Huggins said when asked whether or not the junior will play Tuesday.

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