The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 31, 2010

WVU uses ‘D’, coaching to rally past Louisville

MORGANTOWN — Bob Huggins had tried just about everything in his weathered, dog-eared coaching book and none it was doing much to stop Louisville as the Cardinals snowed three-point shots down upon the Mountaineers.

The game had long been a sellout but the frigid weather and an informal student boycott held the attendance down to 12,471 fans, who still found a way to fill the empty seats with noise.

Louisville was oblivious to it all, playing as if their NCAA Tournament chance was at stake, and it was considering the 13-7 record they packed on the bus with the luggage.

They started as cold as the weather, falling behind 13-0 to a Mountaineer team seemed on its way to a blowout, but then closed out the half making 11 of their final 15 shots and stretched that to 16 of 21 in building a 12-point lead midway through the second half.

West Virginia had them right where they wanted them.

The resilient Mountaineers, who have made more comebacks than Brett Favre in what now is a 17-3 season, stormed from behind to win the year’s most entertaining game, 77-74.

What was surprising was not that they came from behind, but rather how and that brings us back to the dusty old playbook of Huggins’s.

Turning to a page he seldom uses, Huggins pulled out the 1-3-1 zone that John Beilein made a staple in these parts and it turned the game around.

“We were running out of defenses to play,” said Huggins, who had tried most of his tricks but was unable to contain what had been a rather weak Louisville team that ranked 10th in the conference in field goal percentage and 13th in 3-point percentage.

Huggins calls the defense he used “the point drop” defense, which is sort of unconventional 1-3-1.

“I always screw things up,” Huggins said. “I’m not conventional.”

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