MORGANTOWN - Bob Huggins joked last month that he was like evangelist Ernest Angley in that he seemingly had the power to heal opposing players right before they faced his West Virginia basketball team.
Well, he might want to amend that. It seems like entire opposing teams get better right about the time the Mountaineers show up on the schedule.
Monday it was Pitt, which is now on a three-game winning streak after making West Virginia its third-straight victim after an eight-game losing streak.
And now on Sunday the Mountaineers face Providence, which is still mired in last place in the 16-team Big East but showing signs of life.
Wednesday night the Friars beat Rutgers 78-67 to snap a four-game losing streak. That came on the heels of competitive losses to No. 15 Marquette and then to Pitt and South Florida on the road.
"We thought we'd been competitive in our previous three games, really close against Marquette, Pittsburgh and South Florida,'' first-year coach Providence coach Ed Cooley said Thursday. "We had some mental breakdowns, but we were able to get over the hump [against Rutgers].''
Now for the Friars (13-10, 2-8 Big East) comes West Virginia (15-8, 5-5). The teams play at noon Sunday in Providence, a game to be televised by the Big East Network.
West Virginia goes into the game mired in a three-game slump after losing to St. John's and No. 2 Syracuse on the road and then the loss at home to Pitt.
But while the Mountaineers are stumbling, Providence is improving. The Friars had already proven that when things go right they can be as competitive as anyone. Three weeks ago Providence put a 90-59 drubbing on Louisville.
That was followed by a lopsided loss at Syracuse, but since then the Friars have not been out of any game. Cooley is seeing progress.