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January 19, 2013

Mountaineers ready for Purdue

West Virginia (8-8, 1-3) will step out of conference for a road matchup against Purdue (9-8, 3-2) in a game that will pit two teams that have struggled with consistency.

Both teams will look to bolster their current NCAA tournament resumes and improve on up and down seasons to this point. The Boilermakers have a victory over No. 11 Illinois, but have losses to Oregon State and Eastern Michigan.

Purdue is led in scoring by junior guard Terone Johnson at 13.4 points per game, while freshman center A.J. Hammons and senior guard D.J. Byrd also average double figures.

The Mountaineers are coming off a hard-fought 69-67 loss to Iowa State, where West Virginia battled back from a 17-point deficit to tie the game up in the final seconds only to fall short for the second consecutive game. Matt Humphrey returned to the lineup for the first time since the Radford game and hit three of his four three-pointers in ten minutes of action.

"He played really well in practice the two days before Iowa State. He's got to play, we've got to be able to score the ball," head coach Bob Huggins said. "Let's be honest he didn't make shots early in the year, he's put a lot of time in and I think fixed a couple of things that were giving him problems."

Eron Harris made his first career start against Iowa State and played 29-minutes scoring 17-points and serving as a key in the Mountaineers late comeback attempt. Huggins believes that it's likely the Indiana native will draw the start again against the Boilermakers.

"Eron is a guy that loves basketball. He spends a lot of time in the gym. I think Eron has a pretty good aptitude to be able to learn basketball. Honestly when we started him at Iowa State he didn't respond very well," he said. "I thought he was really nervous then we got him out of the game and Larry (Harrison) talked to him and he was world's better when he got back in the game."

As far as playing a smaller lineup, Huggins said that he's confident in the ability to rebound the basketball.

"We've got to do a better job with after we rebound the ball. But I think we can rebound it and get second shots with that lineup," he said.

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