STARKVILLE, Miss. - To say that Bob Huggins was not exactly a happy camper late Saturday night would be an understatement.
He sat almost slumped in a chair with a towel around his neck looking as if he'd just played 40 minutes of basketball rather than coached it. And his mood was no different than his look.
Take, for instance, when a media member covering Mississippi State asked Huggins for his take on the No. 21 Bulldogs, who had just held off a strong rally by Huggins' West Virginia team and pulled away late for a 75-62 win. The game was the final one in this year's Big East-SEC Challenge, this one at MSU's Humphrey Coliseum in front of a crowd of 7,529.
"I'm worried about my team,'' Huggins said. "I think [Mississippi State] is really good. I think we suck right now.''
Well, so much for sugar coating it.
While there were perceived positives in WVU's loss - the young Mountaineers were down by 10 points early on the road and didn't flinch, making it close until the final moments against a Big East-caliber team - Huggins obviously was in no mood to look for silver linings. So many issues need addressed and he hasn't much time to do that.
On Thursday night West Virginia (4-2) plays Kansas State in Wichita, then has virtually no turnaround time before a home game with Miami Saturday night.
"We try to fix it,'' Huggins said. "That's all we can do.''
But where to start?
Huggins has all sorts of things to work on, not the least of which are the basics of running the motion offense and playing help defense in a man-to-man scheme. He still is occasionally frustrated by turnovers (11 against the Bulldogs) and there was only mild improvement Saturday night at the free-throw line (14-of-20 for a team shooting 59.4 percent this season).
But what bothered Huggins perhaps more than anything at Mississippi State was something even more basic - shooting the basketball.
In a game in which Kevin Jones played only 25 minutes because of foul trouble, the 6-foot-8 senior was held to 14 points and nine rebounds, below his averages of 21 and 12.2, respectively. Most alarming, though, was that Jones made only six of his 17 shots from the floor and took an 0-fer on six 3-point attempts.
Senior point guard Truck Bryant, meanwhile, was 5-of-14 from the floor and missed five of his six 3s.