Huggins wants more intensity from West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Hard-to-please coach Bob Huggins showed his grumpy side after No. 20 West Virginia won its season opener by 28 points.

On Monday night, the Mountaineers (1-0) get a chance to show progress during another nonconference tuneup against Mississippi Valley State (0-1).

“I thought our effort sucked,” Huggins said after Friday's 87-59 blowout of Mount St. Mary's. “I think most people would say the effort was OK, but not for the way we're trying to play and for what we have to get done.”

Though “Press Virginia” forced 21 turnovers with its full-court defense, Huggins didn't see enough defenders challenging passing lanes or intensity on traps.

“We play in spurts. We don't play with a lot of consistency yet,” he said. “That in all honesty is as poor a performance we've had in pressure in three years.”

Senior forward Nathan Adrian had 13 points and junior guard Jevon Carter added 10 as 11 players scored for West Virginia. Freshman forward Sagaba Konate — with 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks in only 12 minutes — made an impressive debut.

Junior guard Daxter Miles, a two-year starter and key defender, sat out with an illness and his status remains uncertain for Monday.

Huggins said point guard Tarik Phillip (nine points, two assists, three turnovers) played with a sprained knee against Mount St. Mary's and forward Esa Ahmad (eight points) had a sprained ankle.

Mississippi Valley State absorbed a 94-63 beating at Northwestern in its opener, trailing by double digits after seven minutes.

“I didn't like the way we played defense at the start of the game,” Mississippi Valley coach Andre Payne said. “We got after it a little better in the second half, but that start set us back.”

The Delta Devils, picked to finish sixth in the 10-team SWAC, start five seniors but have posted a 14-52 record the past two seasons under Payne.

Guard Marcus Romain's 16 points were offset by six turnovers during the loss. Junior forward Amos Given scored 11 points in a reserve role.