The West Virginia Mountaineers will be playing a familiar obstacle Monday night- short rest.
Just two days after beating Texas A&M Corpus Christi in Morgantown, the Mountaineers (7-2) will host Tennessee Tech (6-4). Fortunately, the Golden Eagles also played on Saturday, beating Evansville, 72-70.
West Virginia will have to get used to this. They'll get two days of rest after Monday's game, before playing on back-to-back nights against Missouri State and #7 Baylor. This is the second four-game stretch for WVU that has provided little rest.
According to Deniz Kilicli, that's not an accident.
"They said to us, that when they did the schedule," he said, "they could have played the Miami game a day after, but they did it like that because the Villanova and Seton Hall games are like that. When you start the Big East, that's how it is."
And, with all due respect to Tennessee Tech, those Big East games will be a lot more demanding than what West Virginia will face Monday night. The Mountaineers will have to show they can consistently win this type of game if they want to have a chance once the Big East games arrive.
To do that, they need to get out to a quicker start. In Saturday's game, WVU allowed Texas A&M Corpus Christi to jump out to an early lead and build confidence. The Mountaineers, of course, ultimately won the game in convincing fashion, but it won't be that easy once the opponents start to get tougher.
"We're just going to work on coming out in games with more intensity," said Aaron Brown. "We have (four games in seven days), so we just want to come out with intensity in these next couple of games."
It was the fourth consecutive game that West Virginia found itself trailing, but three of those ended up being wins.
"We're going to play better competition than this," Kevin Jones said after Saturday's game, "taking nothing away from them. They played hard for the whole 40 minutes and really competed, but we're going to play better teams than that and it's definitely a concern for us. We've got to do a better job of not being more aggressive, but just being smarter with our rotations and everything."
Despite those slow starts, West Virginia has been playing pretty well over the past month. The Mountaineers have won six of their past seven games, and are currently riding a three-game winning streak.
There has been a lot of improvement from the freshmen in that time, but the most consistent part of this team's game has been rebounding. Since a loss, to Kent State mid-November, WVU has not been out-rebounded in a single game.
Once again, they'll play a team that hasn't been all that strong on the boards this season, and should be able to take advantage of that.
If the Golden Eagles do upset the Mountaineers on Monday, it will likely be because of Kevin Murphy. Murphy leads the team with 21 points per game and has at least 20 in his last three games.
Tennessee Tech is also on a three-game winning streak. Four of their six wins this season have been extremely close, with two going to overtime.
Monday's game will tip off at 7 p.m., and will be aired on the Big East Network.