By Cam Huffman
Following a 1-3 start to the 2012-13 season, West Virginia University’s basketball coach promised his team would quickly show some improvement.
He’s delivered on that guarantee.
The Mountaineers have won two straight to get back to .500, but the improvement has really been displayed in the numbers, as evidenced by a quick look at the box score from Wednesday’s 69-59 win over Marshall.
The first telling number was free throw percentage.
In a 63-60 loss to Davidson on Nov. 23, the Mountaineers were 8-of-17 from the charity stripe, while Davidson was 17-of-22. That nine-point differential at the line proved to be the major difference in a game that was otherwise dominated by the Mountaineers in nearly every statistical category.
Against the Herd, though, it was obvious that WVU had been spending some time at the foul line in practice. WVU knocked down an impressive 24-of-30 attempts at the line, while Marshall hit just 12-of-22. The 12-point differential was largely responsible for a 10-point Mountaineer victory.
The other big statistic was rebounding. WVU was outdone on the glass by both Gonzaga and Oklahoma, two of its three losses, so the chances of coming out on top in that category against a Marshall team that was outrebounding opponents by nearly seven boards per game seemed slim.
WVU, though, surprised even its head coach by beating the Herd 43-35 on the glass. Fifteen offensive rebounds led to 12 second-chance points and another Capital Classic victory for the Mountaineers.
Marshall forward Robert Goff will serve a one-game suspension for the flagrant foul he committed during Wednesday’s game. According to Conference USA rules, he’ll have to sit out Saturday’s home game against Coppin State.
Four WVU players, who were ejected for leaving the bench but were not involved in any physical contact, will be eligible to play Saturday against Virginia Tech.
“Why they ran out there, I have no idea,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins joked in the postgame. “Generally, they’re looking for an escape. They probably just wanted to get a better look at it, I guess. Those guys are not what I would call fighters.”
Individual tickets for WVU men’s basketball Big 12 home games will go on sale Monday at 9 a.m.
Tickets for the Kansas State, Kansas, Texas, Baylor and Iowa State games are $32, while all other games are $27. Fans can order tickets by visiting www.wvugame.com, calling 1-800-WVU-GAME or visiting the Coliseum ticket office.
WVU kicks off its Big 12 schedule Jan. 5 against Oklahoma.
Another All-America football team has been released, and West Virginia was well-represented once again.
This one was the FOXSportsNext.com All-America squad, and Tavon Austin landed on the first team as an all-purpose athlete, while Stedman Bailey made the list as a second team wide receiver.
The Walter Camp All-America team was also announced with Austin and Bailey both landing on the team as second-team wide receiver. There was no all-purpose athlete on the Walter Camp team.
A former Mountaineer could get his first NFL start on Sunday, according to the Green Bay Packers’ website.
Don Barclay, an undrafted free agent, saw his first professional action last week at right tackle, filling in for the injured J.T. Lang, and the website said “all signs point to” Barclay getting the start this Sunday against Detroit.
“He doesn’t get fooled too much by scheme or overwhelmed by a situation, overwhelmed by a playbook,” Packers offensive line coach James Campen told the website. “He’s the type of guy who will embrace his opportunity and go get it.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH