Another Steep Challenge

On Friday night, West Virginia will take on a team that is the most similarly-sized opponent that the Mountaineers have faced all season. And at a time in the season when every win is vital to postseason seeding, Mountaineer head coach Bob Huggins and his team recognize how big a win would be against No. 13 Villanova.

"They can play (a bigger line up) but they haven't," said Huggins as the Mountaineers prepared to battle another ranked for. "They have when they really needed to. They have some guys on the bench that are a little bit bigger. We're 20 some games into the year and they're going to play the way they play. It now becomes who controls the game and makes the game go the way they want it to go. A lot of it comes down to making shots. We played there last year and couldn't make one and they couldn't miss one. Hopefully it's the other way around this time."

Huggins recognizes that the nationally ranked Wildcats will bring a challenge. They are a high scoring team, and have tallied more than 90 points in their last three games. The Mountaineers, who have been more of a defensive squad, have been scoring in the 50 and 60s.

"I think (Villanova) is really good," said Huggins. "They have won low scoring games and they have won high scoring games. We have got to dictate the tempo of the game with our defense. They try to do the same thing. They try to slow you down."

The Mountaineers will have to keep scorers Alex Ruoff and Da'Sean Butler out of the foul trouble they saw against Pittsburgh. Both players fouled out against the Panthers and spent long stretches of the game on the bench. Butler had his worst showing of the season, scoring just four points and failing to grab a rebound.

"I've talked to (Butler) about (foul trouble) since day one," Huggins admitted. "If we're going to win we have to keep him on the floor. It's hard for me to say anything (to him.) We had Tuesday off and when I talked to him he was just getting out of working out and taking shots and he was going to go back in later that night. If we're going to be a good offensive team we have to him. I haven't figured out how Da can throw it to Da."

West Virginia will be making its latest start of the season with Saturday's 9 p.m. tip off. Although one might think that could throw players out of their routine, it isn't a problem according to Huggins. In fact, he's a fan of late night games.

"We played midnight tips at Cincinnati and it was the best crowds we had," said Huggins. "The old people gave the tickets to their grandchildren so they came in. The students were wired. They had had a big time. They were wired and it was a great atmosphere. It was honestly the best atmosphere we had when I was there."

West Virginia will need that wired atmosphere and every other bit of help it can get if it is to knock of the Wildcats and earn the additional big win it needs for its NCAA resume.


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