One of the hardest things to simulate in sports is playing on the road. The only real way to get experience playing in hostile environments, which puts a West Virginia team with 10 first or second-year players at a disadvantage when they are asked to travel.
Wednesday night’s loss on the road to Texas Tech was already WVU’s third road Big 12 loss this season. All four of the Mountaineers’ losses have come away from home.
Sophomore big man Derek Culver experience a full conference schedule last season and thinks playing in opposing areas is what trips this year’s team up.
“I just feel like we just get too caught up in our emotions and the crowd and everything and just come out of character of what we do,” Culver said after Wednesday’s game.
The team’s home/road splits in the conference this season support Culver’s theory.
In three Big 12 games at home this season the Mountaineers are averaging 81.3 points per game on 50.6% shooting while holding opponents to 54 points per game on 31.6% shooting. They are also out-rebounding opponents 45.7-27.3.
In four road Big 12 games this season WVU’s production drops to 64.3 points per game on 38.5% shooting while allowing 68.5 points on 45.8% shooting. The team’s rebounding margin also drops to 34-31.5.
When on the road, the Mountaineers score 17 fewer points, shoot 12.1 points lower and grab 11.7 fewer rebounds than when they play at home. They also allow opponents to score 14.5 more points, shoot 14.2 points higher and grab 4.2 more rebounds.
Coach Bob Huggins said he had been trying to explain to the team that the season is long and they have to play every game to win.
“We’re young, we’re really young,” Huggins said. “They have no idea. I tried to tell them, I tried telling them for three days.”
This is junior Taz Sherman’s first time going through the Big 12 schedule. He said the team did not play Wednesday’s game like they have been all season.
“As a whole, we just didn’t come together as a group and play a whole 40 minutes like we usually do,” Sherman said.
Sherman said allowing three Texas Tech players, Davide Moretti (25 points), Terrence Shannon Jr. (23) and Jahmi’us Ramsey (21), to score 20 points was something that did not sit well with the team.
“I can say right now, that’s not going to happen to us again,” Sherman said.