"It enhances their 3-point shooting, so we probably have to extend our defense,'' said WVU guard Joe Mazzulla. "It does make it tougher.''
The hope for West Virginia, though, is that Pitt has to deal with the same thing. When last the two teams played, the Mountaineers were in the midst of a horrible shooting slump. Against Pitt, WVU missed 13 of its 17 3-point tries. The Mountaineers stayed close - it was a one-point game with four minutes to play - because Deniz Kilicli was 9-of-13 and Kevin Jones was able to score inside a few times.
More recently, though, West Virginia has shot the ball better - 53 percent against DePaul and 54 percent in the second half of Saturday's 72-58 win over Notre Dame - and if the Mountaineers can do a little of that tonight it would certainly not hurt. In addition to the obvious points earned by making outside shots, it also opens things up not only for Kilicli and Jones inside, but for Mazzulla to drive to the basket.
West Virginia is much better when he's able to do that.
"You can't drive the ball when everybody's in the lane,'' Huggins said. "When we make perimeter shots, it opens up things for Joe to drive to the rim.''
Another thing West Virginia has to battle, of course, is playing at the Petersen Events Center, where West Virginia is 1-6 all-time. But that's nothing unusual. In fact, WVU's winning percentage in a building that was opened in 2002 (.143) is actually better than the overall mark for visiting teams (.075). Pitt is 147-12 at The Pete and has lost there just twice in the last three seasons.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.