West Virginia struggles in first test of week in men's hoops

West Virginia struggles in first test of week in men's hoops

Published Feb. 4, 2015 2:38 a.m. ET

The ACC is set for another showdown in men's college basketball while West Virginia began a tough week with a thud.

The big game will be on Saturday when No. 3 Virginia plays at No. 8 Louisville.

The Cavaliers (19-1) dropped to No. 3 in the latest AP poll, behind top-ranked Kentucky and Gonzaga after suffering their first loss of the season, 69-63 to Duke over the weekend.

Virginia bounced back with a strong defensive effort to beat No. 12 North Carolina 75-64 in Chapel Hill on Monday night. That gives the Cavaliers four days off to prepare for Louisville (19-3), which beat Miami on Tuesday night. The Cardinals' only losses this season have come to Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke.


As is usually the case, there's more than one big game in the ACC this week.

No. 4 Duke (18-3) gets a rematch against No. 10 Notre Dame (20-3) on Saturday, less than two weeks after losing to the Irish on Jan. 28. The Blue Devils handed Virginia its first loss last week, but finished a spot behind the Cavaliers in the AP poll.

West Virginia moved up to No. 15 in the Top 25 this week, but got off to a rough start as the Mountaineers were blown out by No. 21 Oklahoma on Tuesday night. They host No. 19 Baylor on Saturday.

Unlike the first meeting with Oklahoma when West Virginia won by 20 points on Jan. 13, the Mountaineers (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) lost 71-52 on Tuesday.

''They were very good,'' coach Bob Huggins said. ''They were very, very good. As I have said a thousand times and I continue to say, I'm just an old coach, so it's not like I'm going to outsmart a lot of people in this league. We have to execute and we didn't execute.''

The Mountaineers have forced teams into mistakes all season, leading the nation by forcing 22.3 turnovers per game. They also have 261 steals, already more than Oklahoma State had while leading the conference last season.

''If you were walking down the street and somebody just got in your face about three inches away for a few blocks, would that bother you?'' Huggins said. ''No one wants to play against that. No one wants that in their life. It's uncomfortable. People just want to slap you.''

When West Virginia beat Oklahoma in January, it scored 27 points off 22 turnovers. On Tuesday they forced 13 turnovers which they converted to only eight points. The Mountaineers have yet to face Baylor (16-5), which beat then-No. 19 Texas in its last game.

In the Big East, No. 7 Villanova (19-2) has what should be an easy game, followed by what will almost certainly be a tough one.

The Wildcats first play at home on Wednesday against Marquette, which is near the bottom of the conference at 10-11. After that, Villanova hosts No. 24 Georgetown on Saturday.