"We just didn't get stops when we needed them," Bryant said of WVU's loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday. "We did a really poor job of playing defense down the stretch and it led to a loss."
In addition to the Wildcats, the Mountaineers will also face Miami at home, and Missouri State and Baylor in Las Vegas in nonconference play - all before starting the gauntlet that is the Big East.
Meanwhile, West Virginia is trying to break in a host of freshmen while somehow finding cohesion between the youngsters and veterans Bryant, Kevin Jones, and Deniz Kilicli.
Yet quality nonconference wins are at a premium and a victory over the undefeated Wildcats (5-0) would certainly qualify. Bryant said the rookies have come along nicely despite mixed results, and need to continue to do so.
"They've gotten a lot better with every practice and every game," Bryant said. "We need to get better on defense and offense and we need to all get on the same page."
The Mountaineers shouldn't be surprised by anything they see from K-State. In fact, the two squads mirror each other, relying on defense to make a living.
The Wildcats are allowing just 59 points per game while WVU is yielding 63.7. The Mountaineers need to take advantage of an edge on the glass where WVU is plus-8 per game in rebounding and the Wildcats plus-3.
"What impresses me is their defense," Bryant said. "They do everything we do, especially playing good 'D'. It will be a good test and we will have to make smart decisions."
Jones has gotten off to a great start to the season, averaging 19.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, tops in both categories on either team. Bryant is averaging 14.2 points per game while freshman Jabarie Hinds checks in at 11.5 and Kilicli at 11.2.
The Wildcats also have four players averaging double figures, led by Jamar Samuels at 13 points per game. Thomas Gipson and Will Spradling each average a dozen points per contest and Rodney McGruder comes in at 11.8.
With all of the uncertainties in what promises to be a physical, grind-it-out battle, Huggins has a pretty good grip on what kind of game he expects tonight.
"Hopefully, a good one for the Mountaineers," Huggins said.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or ryan.pr...@wvgazette.com.