MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The day before West Virginia was to host unbeaten Virginia Tech, Bob Huggins seemed mildly perturbed by a question regarding the Hokies and their high-octane offense. What sort of a challenge was it, he was asked, to face the nation's third-best scoring team?
"Honestly, you can ask them about handling a team that guards like us,'' Huggins replied. "I think we'll do a better job of guarding them than people have. I think that's what it's going to come down to.''
And, indeed, it did.
The fact is that in stark contrast to the school's football team - which won not a single game this season because of its defensive prowess - Huggins' basketball team may win very few this winter because of its offense.
Yes, there were offensive moments at which to marvel during Saturday's 68-67 win over the no-longer-unbeaten Hokies. Chief among them were the shocking 3-pointers rained down by post players Kevin Noreen and Aaric Murray.
But this was also a team whose three primary backcourt players missed 22 of the 25 shots they took. It's a team that shot just 35.3 percent, which is not far from the norm (39.8 percent) through seven games. It's a team whose starters score but 32 points and whose foul shooters, after an unusually successful performance three nights earlier against Marshall, were once again just that - foul (10 of 18, 55.6 percent).
But for the third straight game, West Virginia's defense put it to a team whose primary strength was outscoring opponents.