But the Horned Frogs have also had some unwanted changes. Devonta Abron had turned into a rebounding machine at the end of last season, but then tore an Achilles in August and is sitting out the season. Aaron Durley, a 6-9 redshirt freshman who was a Little League World Series star of some note in 2005 and 2006 because of his size, was also being counted on before he tore an ACL for the second year in a row.
Throw in the loss of three other senior starters from last season and, quite frankly, familiarity isn't a word one might associate with TCU.
Still, West Virginia's comfort level playing in the league and against the opponents is something that can't hurt.
"If nothing else, we're well into the season and we have 12 game tapes to look at and all the games are on TV,'' Huggins said. "So it's not like facing unknown teams.''
West Virginia's perimeter-oriented team could have some trouble dealing with TCU's size. Shepherd is averaging 8.3 points and 8.6 rebounds and 6-6 freshman Brandon Parrish averages 10.3 points. Along with Fields, they could pose a challenge for WVU's freshman-heavy inside game with Devin Williams and Brandon Watkins.
"No, it's not the same team. They have guys who can make shots and a couple of guys who can score close,'' Huggins said. "But if there's a good thing about it, those are freshmen and sophomores for them [under the basket]. It's not like playing against juniors and seniors. There's a world of difference in maturity.''
BRIEFLY: West Virginia's free-throw shooting is improving. The Mountaineers have shot less than 70 percent from the line just once in the last six games after dipping below that mark five times in the previous six games.
Huggins credits the team's year-old basketball practice facility, where players can come and shoot virtually whenever they want.
"I was shocked that we didn't shoot it better than we did [earlier in the season],'' he said. "Having this facility makes a huge difference.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1