Huggins, WVU Shift Focus to Texas A&M - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Huggins, WVU Shift Focus to Texas A&M

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By Chris Jackson

Coming off a big win over Kansas, West Virginia’s focus shifts to a non-conference matchup in late January.

The timing of the Big 12/SEC Challenge – which Bob Huggins and other Big 12 coaches disagree with – falls right in the heart of the conference slate. It used to be a December showcase until last year, shifting it to January for television purposes.

Nevertheless, WVU is set to face Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon before making the always-difficult trip to Ames next week.

“Our guys, our fan base are really locked into conference play right now,” Huggins said. “I think they’re great events. I think they’re absolutely great events. The timing of it isn’t up to us.”

WVU has struggled since the Challenge was created, falling to SEC opponents in each of the last three seasons. It fell to Florida last year when then-senior forward Jonathan Holton was suspended, lost to LSU in the final seconds in 2014 and Missouri the year before that.

All of those teams pitted their own tests, and so does this Aggies bunch. They deploy one of the tallest and longest rosters in college basketball, highlighted by 6-foot-10 sophomore Tyler Davis.

Davis, who averages team-highs in scoring and rebounds per game, is joined alongside DJ Hogg, Tonny Trocha-Morelos and Robert Williams in the frontcourt, with each averaging over eight points and standing at 6-foot-9 or taller.

“I think it may be the biggest team we’ve ever faced in my 10 years here,” Huggins said. “They’re huge. They play some 2-3 zone and they’re so long. There’s not a lot of open areas so we’re going to have to spend a couple good days getting ready to try to attack that 2-3 zone.”

Despite the height advantage, Texas A&M isn’t finding the same success as last season. It’s unranked and 11-8 overall, a decline from a streak at the end of 2016 that saw it win 10 of the last 12 games, culminating in a Sweet Sixteen appearance.

But while the record isn’t greater than recent foes, the Mountaineers have fallen accustom to letdowns this campaign. After beating top-ranked Baylor, they narrowly escaped at Texas before falling to Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Carrying that same mindset from the Kansas game – one that saw Esa Ahmad’s career-high 27 points and the team’s better decision-making (eight turnovers) – is critical in averting a letdown and winning their second straight game.

“We just have to stop overlooking teams and play everybody like it’s Kansas,” said WVU junior forward Elijah Macon. “Just play everybody the same way.”

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