Senior point guards Juwan Staten and Gary Browne are both hurt, with Staten suffering a knee injury against Texas and Browne spraining his left ankle in the opening minutes against Baylor Saturday, and WVU head coach Bob Huggins said it is doubtful that they practice on Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. The veteran head coach said they both remain day-to-day, but that if they were available they would play against Kansas or in the regular season finale against Oklahoma State.
"I saw both of them earlier today and I would doubt they practice today, but tomorrow is another day," Huggins said. "You prepare all year to play during the season and why you wouldn't play guys or why guys wouldn't want to play - that just doesn't make any sense to me at all."
West Virginia struggled without the two guards against Baylor, as the Mountaineers fell 78-66 to the Bears in Waco. And the absence will likely continue to be felt as the Mountaineers continue down the stretch and close the regular season against two more ranked teams in an always difficult Big 12 Conference.
"It hurts our depth, that's the biggest thing," Huggins said. "I didn't think our pressure was nearly as good in Waco, of course they did a great job, but we played the two freshmen (Daxter Miles and Jevon Carter) the whole second half and didn't take them out at all. I think (Browne and Staten being hurt) hurts our depth more than anything else."
The Mountaineers will be taking on Kansas for the second time this year, just a few weeks after beating the Jayhawks in Morgantown. Since then, Kansas has won two out of three games - dropping another Big Monday game in Manhattan against Kansas State last week - and still sits atop the Big 12 standings by a game over Oklahoma.
"We've had a bunch of games kind of like this toward the end of the year," Huggins said. "They're a great team and they're always prepared. They're extremely well-coached and very talented."
West Virginia is preparing for its final two regular season games of the season before heading to Kansas City to play in the Big 12 Conference tournament again, where it has struggled to find success the last two seasons. But Huggins is expecting this year's tournament to be as tough to win as any he's been in, especially in a Big 12 that has five teams ranked in the top 25 and features 10 teams that can beat anybody on any given night.
"The hard thing about this league is that there aren't any bad teams, everybody is good," he said. "This is probably as open a tournament as any that I've ever been involved with."