Cold-shooting WVU hopes to get hot vs. OU

West Virginia has been able to thrive all season and put point on the board by using its defense to create more chances on the offensive end of the floor.

Opponents are turning the ball over on more than 31 percent of their possessions so far this season and that has allowed the No. 14 Mountaineers (14-2, 2-1 Big 12 Conference) to take 19 more shots than their opponents per game.

And, considering WVU's shooting woes this season, it has been a necessity. West Virginia shot just 32.4 percent against Iowa State Saturday - including a 7-for-29 performance from beyond the arc - but was able to keep it close throughout its 74-72 loss to the Cyclones by just getting more opportunities. WVU finished with 18 more shot attempts than ISU.

"It takes us more possessions to score. I don't know what else to say, that's what it is," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins during Monday's Big 12 teleconference. "We've been good at creating turnovers and we've rebounded the ball pretty well. That gives us the opportunity to get more shots.

"We haven't made any (shots) all year. I think what we have done is make key baskets, and we missed a ton of key baskets (against Iowa State). We missed, I don't know, two or three point-blank shots and then didn't shoot it well at the free throw line either. Those are things we have done a better job at."

The Mountaineers will likely have to make some more shots in key situations Tuesday when No. 16 Oklahoma comes to Morgantown.

The Sooners (11-4, 2-1) have a team led by experienced upperclassmen like junior guards Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins and forward Ryan Spangler.

Their 73 points per game is good for third in the Big 12 so far, and OU shoots 44 percent from the field.

"They're really good. They're very experienced. Heild and Cousins have played together for three years," Huggins said of the Sooners. "They're very experienced and extremely well-coached. They take really good shots and they really defend. I think they're a very, very good team. (OU head coach Lon Kruger) does a great job of finding and creating mismatches."

After struggling against the Cyclones, the Mountaineer head coach is hoping to see his team gain some confidence by hitting shots against Oklahoma.

During the teleconference, Huggins pointed out that forwards Jonathan Holton and Nathan Adrian and guard Tarik Phillip are all capable of hitting shots, but are all shooting worse than 17 percent from three-point range this season. He said the struggles have gotten to Adrian, in particular, as the sophomore from Morgantown has made just five of his 32 attempts from beyond the arc after showing some promise as one of West Virginia's best perimeter shooters during his freshman year.

"We recruited him to make shots, we thought he would be able to make open shots," Huggins said. "I think it's in Nate's head, I don't think it's in the other guys' heads.

"I think he just needs some to go down (in games). When a couple shots go down, I think his confidence and his psyche will get better."


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