The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

February 2, 2009

WVU faces Syracuse in Dome

MORGANTOWN — Coach Bob Huggins has cautioned his West Virginia University men’s basketball team that it must play hard the full 40 minutes in order to defeat Syracuse on Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome.

He emphasized that point because the Mountaineers (15-6, 4-4 Big East) fell behind 45-25 on Saturday at Louisville, but bounced back to lose by just 69-63 in the famed Freedom Hall.

“It’s going to take 40 minutes at Syracuse,” Huggins said, “We can’t play 20 or 30 minutes. We’ll have to play 40.”

The Orangemen (17-5, 5-4) were ranked 15th in the country last week. That was before they bowed in a 100-94 shootout at Providence. West Virginia likely will be catching them in a mean mood.

Syracuse has lost three games in a row and four of its last five. What’s more, WVU snapped an eight-game losing steak in this series by winning last year’s meeting in Morgantown, 81-61.

“We just didn’t do a very good job in the first half,” Huggins said after the Louisville loss. “We just didn’t get into an offense, and that’s what they want — not let you in offense. They score 69 (for the game) and how many did we give them on turnovers?

“We did a pretty good job defensively, and they’re very good. They can make mistakes and make up for them. You can’t let pressure get you down and it did in the first half. You gotta be able to handle pressure.”

Huggins was especially disappointed that Darryl “Truck” Bryant, the Mountaineers’ freshman point guard, did not measure up to the challenge he faced. He went 1-for-9 shooting, made two free throws, had no assists and turned the ball over four times in 21 minutes.

“He came into Freedom Hall and he didn’t respond at all,” the coach said. “But he’s going to respond. He’s going to be a good player, and we know that. Those are great lessons for him to learn. But we’re not going to get beat by 30 waiting for him to learn lessons.”

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Mickey Furfari
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