MORGANTOWN — If there was a way to predict or fix inconsistency, Bob Huggins may just have one of the top teams in college basketball.
Instead, the WVU men’s basketball team has been a roller coaster, especially when it comes to shooting.
As the fifth-seeded Mountaineers (24-10) prepare to face No. 12 seed Murray State (26-5), at 4 p.m. on March 16, in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Huggins isn’t about to shy away from struggles his players may go through.
“It concerns us every day. It concerns us every day in practice,” Huggins said. “We’ve been terribly inconsistent shooting the ball. You never really know who it’s going to be. That’s the thing.”
Of late, Daxter Miles Jr. has been a superb 3-point threat, making 56 percent (15 of 27) from 3-point range in three Big 12 tournament games.
In the four games preceeding the Big 12 tournament, Miles was 7 of 22 (32 percent) from behind the arc.
“Dax has been terrific of late, but he went through a stretch earlier this season,” Huggins continued. “Beetle [Bolden] and Lamont [West] are going through a stretch right now. Lamont can’t buy one. Hopefully everybody starts shooting it well.”
West has just four 3-pointers over the last seven games and has scored in double figures once in that time frame.
Bolden didn’t make a 3-pointer during the Big 12 tournament and only attempted five from behind the arc.
Esa Ahmad struggled from the field against Texas Tech and Kansas. After scoring 21 against Baylor in the quarterfinals, Ahmad shot a combined 2 of 8 from the floor and didn’t attempt a 3-pointer in the final two rounds.
After spending the last two months preparing for familiar faces in the Big 12, WVU players said the challenge is not much different in preparing for the Racers.
“You still watch film and you still have to know their tendencies,” Ahmad said.
“Watching film on Murray State, we found out they’re a good transition team,” added Bolden. “Texas was the same way and we just worked on them. They’re not as athletic as Texas, but they play the same way.”
Huggins said having senior leaders like Miles and Jevon Carter go a long way in making sure their teammates are focused.
That includes practices, where Huggins didn’t like what he saw from his 2015-’16 team that was upset by Stephen F. Austin in the first round.
Huggins said WVU’s early practices this week weren’t very good, but not nearly at the level of that 2015-’16 season.
“It wasn’t as bad as that,” Huggins said. “Having J.C. and Dax helps. They wouldn’t let it get that bad.”
DO IT IN FOUR
Carter and Miles will play in their fourth NCAA tournament Friday, the sixth and seventh WVU players to accomplish the feat.
The others: John Flowers, Cam Thoroughman, Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant and Jonnie West.