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December 4, 2013

Missouri presents big challenge for WVU

West Virginia (6-2) will take a big step up in competition when the Mountaineers hit the road Thursday night for a matchup with Missouri (7-0).

The Tigers have started the season strong out of the gates behind the strong play their backcourt with juniors Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Parker, who lead Missouri with 19 points per game apiece. Senior Earnest Ross also chimes in with 13.4 points per game.

"The guards have the green light to shoot it and drive it when they want," head coach Bob Huggins said. "They are really good in transition, big, athletic and fast."

But while Missouri might be a perimeter oriented team that doesn't take away from the fact that their big men are more than capable and can hold their own according to Huggins. But the backcourt is just more experienced allowing them to carry the bulk of the load.

Huggins believes that his team only continues to get better each time they are on the court and the youth on the team continues to mature with every practice or game, leaving some optimism about the potential of his club by season's end.

"We're not nearly as good as I think we're going to be at the end of the year," he said.

This matchup and the following with Gonzaga will serve as a measuring stick of sorts for this young West Virginia team as the Mountaineers have feasted on lower level competition through the first part of the year but have lost to both Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.

Huggins believes that there are a number of reasons for his team's success to begin the 2013 season, but he thinks his team continues to evolve and has gotten more skill on the perimeter than it had a season ago where the Mountaineers struggled mightily to shoot the ball. This year's team is much different than the inside-out game that West Virginia played a season ago.

"We tried to recruit some more perimeter scorers," he said.

One of those has been junior college transfer Remi Dibo, and the Casper College (Wyo.) product and native of France has not disappointed hitting 48-percent of his attempts from beyond the three-point line.

Dibo is coming off his most productive game as a Mountaineer scoring 19 points and hitting 5 of his 7 attempts from three against Loyola.

"I think he's getting better all the time. He missed almost three weeks with knee surgery, he doesn't know what some of the other guys know," Huggins said.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.

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