West Virginia is still looking to get over the hump when it comes to beating a top-contending team, but now Head Coach Bob Huggins and company will turn their attention to a solid William and Mary team.
William and Mary (6-3) in their last game soared passed the Goucher Gophers 94-60. Despite nearly two weeks off, the Tribe showed little rust. They went on a 17-4 run in the first half to give them an early lead. Goucher was able to keep the game manageable during the first half but an 11-2 run in the second half allowed the Tribe to take total control.
Omar Prewitt scored 20 points to lead the way for William and Mary while Marcus Thornton added 19 and Julian Boatner chipped in with 15. As a team the Tribe went 32-66 (48.5 percent) from the field, 13-37 (35.7 percent) from beyond the arc and 17-21 (81 percent) from the free throw line.
The big boost the Tribe got during the game was on the boards. William and Mary outrebounded Goucher 46-27. Prewitt reeled in 20 boards and Terry Tarpey brought down 11.
West Virginia (7-5) is coming off a close loss to Purdue 73-70. The Mountaineers struggled to make baskets throughout the game.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well," said Huggins following the loss to Purdue. "We're just not consistent. Terry [Henderson] had wide open looks and it barely skimmed the rim. You've got to make those. We haven't made the plays we need to win the games."
Eron Harris led the Mountaineers in scoring against the Boilermakers. Harris scored 24, Devin Williams had 20 and Juwan Staten contributed 14. As a team West Virginia only shot 24-65 (36.9 percent) from the field. Even worse, the Mountaineers were only 3-18 (16.7 percent) from behind the arc.
This game against William and Mary marks the last nonconference match-up for a while. With no real big-time wins under the Mountaineers belt, Huggins believes that the losses can only help his young team learn.
"We're young, we have so many guys used to being the ‘man'," said Huggins. "We have a lot of bad habits that we need to break. You learn from the past, we're going to continue to learn from all the things we didn't do well. If we don't learn from that we're probability not going to learn."
Purdue scored most of their points in transition. Transition defense and rebounding are two key things Huggins sees as areas of improvement.
"There are so many little things that kill us," Huggins said. "It's not hard to run back. You can only drill that and say that so many times. I'm going to fix this. Eventually it'll sink in. We're not that far from being good."
William and Mary will challenge West Virginia in rebounds. The Mountaineers will lean on Williams to come up with boards against the Tribe. Last game, Williams had 12 rebounds, four offensive and 8 defensive.
"We got to continue to grow as a team," said Williams. "I have to stay on a consistent basis. You want consistent effort or consistent play."
Even though the Mountaineers haven't been able to muscle-up wins against big-name teams they still have a lot of opportunities ahead of them. Beating William and Mary will allow them to carry some momentum before enter Big 12 play.
"I know we still got opportunities to do what we want to do," said Harris. "I know we still have an opportunity to change what we need to change. We are on the tip of going over the edge. We just got to do some searching."
West Virginia will search for a win as they return to the Charleston Civic Center to square off against William and Mary. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:00 PM and will be broadcasted live on ROOT Sports Network.