"When they gang guard the way they gang guard, if you don't get them spread it makes it really difficult," Huggins said. "We didn't get them spread enough (in a 78-56 loss Jan. 18) so we wanted to spread them. You hope Nate and Remi can make some shots. Fortunately, Nate made one early, so they don't help quite as much, and then Remi made a couple late because they were helping. They were concerned about penetration."
Spreading the floor and planting shooters around the perimeter sounds a lot like what the Mountaineers do normally - and it really is, though with one twist. WVU has played a motion offense with all five players pulled out away from the basket and each allowed to cut to the basket for a pass and a score or to leave the ball handler isolated.
What the Mountaineers did Tuesday was basically pull five players out, but let Staten work with a screen set by a teammate who could roll to the basket with Staten. No one else cut, and Staten would then decide between taking his own shot, flipping the ball to rolling teammate or kicking it back to the perimeter.
That involved only two WVU players, and thus two Kansas State defenders, in the action.
"It gives us more space inside the paint," Harris said. "You would think you would have more space inside the paint in a five-out motion, but that's really attacking the rim with everybody cutting at the rim. This one is sending the ball-handler at the rim and the roller at the rim."
It sounded like a game plan built to compromise the Kansas State defense and also exploit it because the Wildcats don't have a shot blocker, but it also looked like something the Mountaineers were very comfortable with and capable of continuing.
"We ought to do this every single game, because no one is guarding Juwan," Harris said.
The opposition will still try because Staten (18 points per game) is second in the league in scoring. He trails Iowa State's Melvin Ejim by one-tenth of a point. Yet Staten also leads the conference in assists (5.95) and the Mountaineers are third in the Big 12 in 3-point baskets (172) and 3-point shooting (38.5). They have three players - Harris, Henderson and Dibo - in the top 10 in 3-point percentage, most in the league.
With a decisive, high-scoring guard surrounded by shooters, the Mountaineers have an ability to stress opponents by making them play smart defense and make smarter decisions from start to finish.
"We definitely have guys who can make you pay for helping and we have guys who can get the ball to the rim," Staten said. "We can put a lot of pressure on a team with that. If we come down and they're not stopping us, we can get to the rim. If they collapse, we can make good passes and get good shots. That puts any team in a bad spot."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu