MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia plays its second game in Charleston in a span of 16 days when the Mountaineers face William & Mary Sunday at the Civic Center.It could, however, look like a slightly different team than the one that rallied to beat Marshall.That's because after a short Christmas break, at least a few of the Mountaineers reported back in less than top playing shape, at least as far as coach Bob Huggins is concerned. And that could mean an adjustment in minutes."Most of them were good,'' Huggins said Friday after his second post-Christmas practice ran long. "Some of them didn't do anything.''
Who "some of them'' were, Huggins wasn't saying. But he did say that when the Mountaineers (7-5) face William & Mary (6-4) in Sunday's 3 p.m. game at the Civic Center, it could become obvious."You'll be able to tell that by their minutes Sunday,'' Huggins said.Well, no matter who plays and for how long, this much is certain even before Sunday' game: It's crucial that the Mountaineers get a win. This is their final non-conference game of the season and Big 12 play begins next weekend with a TCU-Texas Tech road trip next Saturday and then the following Monday.
West Virginia hasn't won a game against a team in the RPI top 200, and this one wouldn't change that. Still, the Tribe, at No. 226, still would be the highest-ranked team the Mountaineers have beaten and would give them at least a running start into conference play."It's one of those games you're supposed to win,'' point guard Juwan Staten said after the team's last game, a 73-70 loss to Purdue. "But you still have to go out and play well and win it.''In William & Mary, West Virginia is facing a team that has played a soft schedule but has played well a couple of times against notable opponents. The Tribe led 2013 Final Four team Wichita State before losing 79-62 and beat Rutgers by 10 points on the road. William & Mary, though, has played even fewer games of late than have the Mountaineers, beating Goucher 94-60 on Dec. 20 in its only game since Dec. 7.The Tribe has won five of its last six, beginning with that game at Rutgers. The team's only loss in that span was 71-60 at home to Richmond.This is also the second time the two teams have met in one of the major sports this school year. West Virginia opened its football season with a 24-17 win over William & Mary after trailing 17-7 at halftime.The teams also have a long, if not recent, basketball history. They played regularly when both were members of the Southern Conference in the 1950s and 1960s, and WVU holds a 36-9 edge in the series. They've not played, though, since 1982.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.