You could almost hear West Virginia men's basketball coach Bob Huggins' head shaking in disbelief during Monday's Big 12 teleconference.His Mountaineers (8-9, 1-3 in Big 12) are struggling and he doesn't know why. He can point to the problems that have led to a three-game skid, including a nonconference blowout Saturday at Purdue. But figuring out how to fix those problems has been elusive."I never saw it coming," Huggins said. "I honestly thought we would be very competitive."For the most part, WVU has been competitive and had chances to win its three league losses, including a one-point loss at home to Kansas State and a two-point loss at Iowa State. Even the Mountaineers' Big 12-opening 10-point loss to Oklahoma was within grasp before the Sooners overcame a four-point deficit and outscored WVU 16-3 the final 5:44."We find different ways to shoot ourselves in the foot," Huggins said. "If we shoot it OK from the field, we can't make a foul shot. If we make our foul shots, we can't shoot it from the field. But I've never had teams that didn't guard. And we haven't guarded very well."TCU coach Trent Johnson can commiserate with the shooting woes, but the Horned Frogs' defense has generally remained commendable during the team's 0-5 conference start. TCU and WVU meet for the first time at 6:30 tonight in Morgantown, W.Va."I think one thing we've done a decent job of establishing is how we're going to play on the defensive end," Johnson said. "We're going to do our best, within our talent, to make you earn your keep. We're going to rebound it, we're going to defend it, and we're going to try to take care of it."The Frogs had only 11 turnovers in their loss Saturday to Iowa State, but Johnson would like to see better ball management, especially from Kyan Anderson. The guard's play has been sporadic since Big 12 play began and defenses started targeting him, forcing others to provide more offense. So far, the results have been an inconsistent mixed bag."Offensively, that's going to be dictated on how much more talented we get and how deep we get in years to come," Johnson said. "We just have to keep heading in the right direction and trying to compete at a high level, but at some point down the line we have to start making shots at crucial times and not have so many breakdowns."Huggins was asked if he'd consider bringing in someone to give his team a pep talk. Johnson, who often reminds the media that his players aren't trying to miss shots, would probably concur with Huggins' answer."We talk constantly to them," he said. "If you're talking about bringing somebody in to inspire them, I don't think that would work. They're great kids."In other words, they're motivated. Their shots just aren't falling. WVU is last in the Big 12 in shooting at 39.1 percent. That puts 320 teams out of 345 across the nation shoot better than the Mountaineers. TCU isn't much better, but it is ahead of Texas and WVU among Big 12 schools at 41.9 percent, good for 231st nationally. In the case of WVU, the defense hasn't been consistent either. The Mountaineers are just ahead of Texas Tech in field goal and 3-point defense and in the bottom-third nationally in both."We just didn't make a basket when we needed to make a basket [against Kansas State]. [Against Iowa State], we didn't get a stop when we needed to get a stop. We just haven't been very consistent," Huggins said. "We're giving up almost 44 percent field goals. That's not very good. People are shooting 35 percent on 3s. ... We're just not very consistent defensively. And, obviously, we're not very consistent offensively."Stefan Stevenson817-390-7760Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs
TCU men at
6:30 tonight, Morgantown, W.Va.
Records: TCU 9-9, 0-5 in Big 12; West Virginia 8-9, 1-3
TV: ESPN2; Radio: KLIF/570 AM; KTCU/88.7 FM