MORGANTOWN - There were a few things about West Virginia's 79-74 loss to Marquette Saturday that seemed out of place.
Truck Bryant scoring a career-high 25 points and Deniz Kilicli playing strong in the post on both ends of the floor were among them. Of course, no one was complaining because for the most part this season, performances even approaching that have been the exception and not the rule. It was encouraging to see both players come on strong.
But what really seemed out of place with the Mountaineers Saturday was the 2-3 zone defense the team used almost exclusively against Marquette. Bob Huggins is a man-to-man disciple who likes to mix in different zones to confuse teams and keep them off balance.
But a 2-3 zone for nearly an entire 40 minutes? That was different.
"The bottom line is we're just not as athletic as we've been in the past,'' Huggins said. "You try to come up with things that work.''
How the 2-3 worked on Saturday is, naturally, a matter for some debate. West Virginia actually played a good game for the most part before losing a small lead in the final 90 seconds. But Marquette shot 52 percent from the floor and 64 percent in the second half.
It's easy to look at those numbers one of two ways: Either WVU played terrific defense that was foiled only by a team that was red hot, or Marquette shot so well because they were facing an ineffective defense.
The truth probably rests somewhere in between, but leans toward West Virginia simply being victimized by some red-hot shooters. Still, there were defensive lapses in that zone.
"They did a good job of overloading it and we didn't match the overloads,'' said Joe Mazzulla, who played in a three-guard set with Bryant and Casey Mitchell in most of the key moments Saturday. "We didn't make the rotations necessary to match up with their guys on one side of the floor and it caught up to us.