MORGANTOWN — o o o o o o
Huggins isn’t ready to proclaim this year’s team as a contender in the Big 12, just as the league coaches did not, selecting WVU to finish seventh in the league, down a spot from where it was picked last season.
His problem is that he doesn’t have experienced big men to play inside.
“It’s hard with so many new guys inside,” he said. “If you look at when we’re really good it’s after guys have been here for a while. It’s hard when you have to break bad habits and create good habits.”
The Big 12 preseason poll was released Thursday, and Kansas and Oklahoma tied for the top spot in the 10-team league.
It marked the 12th time in Big 12 history that KU has been the preseason favorite, while the Cowboys are chosen for the third time.
The top returnees for KU will be sophomore Perry Ellis (5.8 ppg) and junior Naadir Tharpe (113 assists), who will be joined by a highly touted group of newcomers. Leading the incoming players will be freshman Andrew Wiggins, who was rated as the consensus No. 1 player in the nation coming out of Huntington Prep. The Jayhawks have won nine straight outright or shared Big 12 regular-season crowns.
Oklahoma State boasts the top two returning scorers in the conference, including last season’s Big 12 Player of the Year Marcus Smart.
OSU has four starters back in 2013-14 and returns 95.4 percent of its points overall from a year ago. It is the first time since sharing the preseason top spot with Kansas in 2004-05 that the Cowboys have been selected to win the league.
Baylor and Iowa State were next in the predictions at third and fourth, while Kansas State and Oklahoma tied for fifth. The Bears have been chosen in the top four in five of the past six years, while ISU’s preseason ranking is its highest since 2000-01. West Virginia, Texas, Texas Tech and TCU round out the poll.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.