Derek Culver

WVU ‘big man’ Derek Culver has been banged and bruised in recent games.

MORGANTOWN — The spike in positive tests and contact tracing that hit the West Virginia men’s basketball team and forced the postponement of Tuesday night’s key trip to Waco, Texas, to face the No. 2 Baylor team has now forced the postponement of the next two scheduled games at the Coliseum.

The Mountaineers were to host TCU on Saturday, Jan. 16, and then play its first rematch of the year at home against Oklahoma State on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The Big 12 will work with these schools to reschedule the games.

The Baylor game was called off because WVU could not field the six scholarship players the COVID-19 protocol says must be available.

The Mountaineers already went into the game down two scholarship players with Oscar Tshiebwe announcing his transfer to Kentucky and with Isaiah Cottrell having just undergone surgery and rehab to repair a torn Achilles tendon that will keep him out the remainder of this season.

While there can be no silver lining in anything like this, it does give Mountaineers’ big man Derek Culver some relief from the way he has been pounded on the court the last few games, going back to the Oklahoma game.

“Derek’s beat up,” Huggins said before getting the team’s latest COVID-19 testing results back. “Those guys have beat him up. He spent two or three days trying to get his back to where he could bend over before the Texas game. He’s got some swelling in his knee.

“They’ve just pounded on him to no end. He’s spent more time in the training room and he doesn’t want to be there. Derek’s not the kind of guy that wants to be there. I’m making him be there just so we can get him to where he can play.”

Teams have been trying to work Culver over before he gets the ball, to move him out from under the basket.

“If you’ll notice, he wasn’t catching the ball in the paint. He was off the paint so much. He gets tired of somebody having a knee up his rear end and pushing him like someone trying to push a truck up a hill. So you give a little bit and when you give a little bit they push him out of the paint.”

Huggins, obviously, is trying to draw the officials’ attention to this to get some protection for his most important player, who started the year with Tshiebwe able to absorb some of the abuse.

WVU is currently 13/14 in the basketball polls with a 9-4 record.

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