West Virginia is enjoying its highest ranking in more than 27 years, but coach Bob Huggins isn’t pleased. With the way his offense looked last time out, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Huggins could resort to using a new rotation of players Saturday night as the sixth-ranked Mountaineers try to get their offense back on track against Coppin State.
With impressive victories in its first five games, West Virginia (6-0) moved up Monday to its highest ranking since it was also sixth Feb. 23, 1982. The Mountaineers notched another decisive win Wednesday - defeating Duquesne 68-39 - but it wasn’t pretty.
West Virginia, winner of 27 straight home games over non-conference opponents, shot 36.4 percent from the floor and was held to a season low in points - nine fewer than its average.
Senior forward Da’Sean Butler, who averages a team-high 16.8 points, scored 10 on a season-worst 3-of-13 shooting and Devin Ebanks finished with four points on 2 of 10 from the floor.
“We’re not playing our best basketball,” said Kevin Jones, who had a team-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. “This is nowhere near our best basketball. Our best basketball is in the future. It’s close - it’s coming up, though.”
Huggins wasn’t quite as optimistic.
“I’m running out of patience,” he said. “Honestly, I’m running out of patience with a few of the guys. They got to get with us or they can sit over there and cheer like crazy. This isn’t going to continue.
“You can’t put guys in the game that just totally stop your offense. Our offense comes to a screeching halt when you put them into the game.”
Huggins didn’t mention any names, but Casey Mitchell finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting from the floor in his third straight poor performance. The junior guard is averaging 3.0 points on 17.4 percent shooting in his last three games after scoring 13.7 and shooting 42.9 percent in the first three.
Ebanks’ poor showing came in his first start of the season after missing the first three games for undisclosed personal reasons. Ebanks, who made the Big East all-rookie team last season, scored 14 twice as a reserve in wins over Texas A&M and Portland.
Coppin State (5-3) has played sound defense, limiting opponents to 39.9 percent shooting, but this will be its toughest test of the season.
Three of the Eagles’ wins have come over teams outside of Division I and their other two victories have come against schools with a combined record of 4-13.
Coppin State, which has lost 32 straight against ranked teams since a 78-65 win over then-No. 6 South Carolina on March 14, 1997, is coming off a 63-58 overtime victory over Loyola (Md.) on Wednesday. The Eagles held the Greyhounds to an opponent season-low 28.4 percent shooting.
Reserve guard Vince Goldsberry scored seven of the 11 overtime points by the Eagles and Lenny Young bounced back from a couple of subpar shooting outings to finish with a game-high 21 points. Young, who averages a team-best 13.0 points, combined to score 11 on 4-of-24 shooting in his previous two games.
In the only other meeting between these schools, West Virginia won 71-47 on Dec. 11, 2004.