MORGANTOWN - The time after a loss is never easy in West Virginia basketball, one reason the Mountaineers are 35-8 after they lose a game in four-plus seasons now under Bob Huggins.
They followed last Monday's come-from-ahead loss at Connecticut with an easy 84-60 win Saturday at home against Rutgers.
"This week was hell, man," junior forward Deniz Kilicli said. "I mean, I hated it. I think everyone hated it. He was really hard on us. "
That was news to Huggins, who was asked about what his players thought was an especially hard week and who assumed he was being asked about the future. WVU (13-5) plays Marshall (13-4) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the soldout Charleston Civic Center and that had Huggins' attention.
"I think playing the Marshall game in the middle of the conference season is a disaster," Huggins said. "It doesn't help either team. They won last year and went out and just got drilled the next game out. It ought to be in the preseason. It should not be where it is."
Whether Huggins recognizes it or not, the Mountaineers enter the Capital Classic with some confidence after navigating the long and trying time between the loss to the Huskies and the win against the Scarlet Knights.
WVU flew back to campus Monday night from Hartford, Conn., and was off Tuesday. The team practiced 2 hours, 45 minutes Wednesday, though Huggins initially wanted to go for about 90 minutes before realizing his players weren't worthy of leaving so soon.
"They decided they didn't want to do that," Huggins said. "That was on them, not me."
Practice was better Thursday, but Huggins said Friday was "just awful and I absolutely wore them out."
The Mountaineers then did the same to Rutgers and beat the Scarlet Knights for the second time in 10 days. WVU was ahead 48-22 at the half - the largest halftime lead of the season - and answered a Rutgers run that cut the lead to 16 points by scoring 17 of the game's next 21 points to go up by 30.
It wasn't without incident, though. The Scarlet Knights scored six quick points to start the second half and Huggins called a timeout.
"We were up 25 (at halftime Jan. 4) at Rutgers and they came out and went on a 10-0 run," Huggins said. "I wasn't going to do that again. What frustrates me more than anything is you really try to teach them how to play the right way. When you're dribbling it and you don't have your head up and don't see open teammates, that's not playing the game the right way."
WVU avoided repeating more history by staying away from many of the critical errors that wiped away a 10-point lead in the second half against UConn. The Mountaineers stuck with their offense in half-court situations, passed the ball, moved the defense and had good possessions with good shots when they needed.