November 28, 2014

There are plenty of things Bob Huggins likes about his West Virginia team, but its recent work on the boards isn't one of them.

The No. 21 Mountaineers might have a good chance to improve their rebounding Saturday night when hosting the College of Charleston, which has been among the nation's worst on the glass.

Off to the program's best start since going 11-0 in 2009-10, West Virginia (6-0) leads the country with 85 steals and 144 forced turnovers. The Mountaineers forced a school-record 36 of those while tying a program best with 26 steals in Wednesday's 103-72 rout of VMI.

That trademark aggressive defensive approach associated with Huggins' teams has overshadowed an area that's become a recent concern for the veteran coach.

After outrebounding its first four opponents 176-127, West Virginia was outrebounded 84-71 while beating then-No. 17 Connecticut and VMI in the last two contests.

''We've got to get better at that, we've got to do a better job of blocking out," Huggins said after his team allowed a season-high 44 rebounds against VMI. "That's going to be huge for us.

"If you would ask me one area that is my biggest disappointment, we just don't rebound the ball.''

Things could change for the better in this first meeting with Charleston (2-3), which is outside the top 300 with a minus-5.6 rebound differential.

Huggins, though, is still weary about facing a team he saw first-hand at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Cougars lost by eight to UConn, nine to Texas A&M and beat George Mason 61-60 in Sunday's seventh-place game.

"You do what you have to do to get ready for the next opponent," Huggins said. "Charleston's pretty good. (It) played very, very well in Puerto Rico."

West Virginia's performance on the boards might not matter if it can build on a 51.9-percent shooting effort against VMI. Freshman Jevon Carter went 12 of 14 from the field, finishing with 28 points in 17 minutes, while fellow guard Juwan Staten added 17 with six assists for the Mountaineers, who shot 39.2 percent in the first five games.

A key reserve Huggins believes has unlimited potential, Carter bounced back after going 1 of 5 with five points against UConn in the tournament championship. His field-goal percentage is up to 47.9 percent even after hitting just 6 of 24 in his first three games.

''Jevon made shots all summer,'' Huggins said. ''He made shots in practice. He just didn't make it in a game for a while. That's hard because you're trying to figure out what's a good shot and what's not a good shot.''

Charleston hasn't allowed any opponent to shoot better than 44.7 percent.

Guard Anthony Stitt averaged 14.5 points in the four games prior to missing all nine field-goal attempts and finishing with two points against George Mason.

The Cougars have dropped three straight against ranked opponents since a 63-59 win at No. 24 Baylor on Nov. 24, 2012.

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