Inconsistent play was the ultimate downfall for the West Virginia men’s basketball team in the 2013-14 season.
While the Mountaineers finished .500 in arguably the best college basketball conference in all of the country, losses to Virginia Tech and Purdue, among others, didn’t help the Mountaineers’ cause for the NCAA tournament.
WVU started conference play 2-0. Granted, the two wins were over TCU and Texas Tech, but the Mountaineers were off to one of their best starts in league play in recent years. Then, West Virginia lost three in a row to then-No. 11 Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas State.
In two of those three losses, WVU wasn’t really in the game, either. After splitting games against Texas Tech (win) and Oklahoma State (loss), the Mountaineers won three in a row over Baylor, Kansas State and the first quality win of the season against then-No. 21 Oklahoma.
After a loss to then-No. 8 Kansas, West Virginia had its biggest statement win of the season against then- No. 11 Iowa State, as the Mountaineers had a 102-77 win over the Cyclones.
All hope for the Big Dance was back and alive once again. Believers thought West Virginia could only get better after that performance.
However, that wasn’t the case. The Mountaineers dropped the next three games of the season at Texas, at home against Baylor and at Iowa State. The belief WVU could make a serious postseason run was in jeopardy.
After a win over TCU and a loss at Oklahoma, WVU needed to pile some wins together to have any chance at the NCAA tournament. The last regular season game saw the power of the league in the Kansas Jayhawks.
Once again, WVU played one of its best games of the season and took down KU, shooting 53 percent from the field and 56 percent from beyond the arc. In that game, sophomore guard Eron Harris led the way with 28 points, while junior guard Juwan Staten added 24 points and freshman forward Devin Williams had 22 points and 13 rebounds.
The hope for WVU fans was that it could make a serious run in the Big 12 Conference tournament. Once again, inconsistent play from the Mountaineers was their ultimate downfall.
While some believe Texas is a bad match-up for West Virginia, the Mountaineers’ performance Thursday night was flat-out embarrassing.
Texas raced out to a 21-4 lead and never looked back. The third-seeded Longhorns built a 20-point lead late in the first half, and eventually made it past 30 points at a point in the second half before cruising to the finish line over the sixth-seeded Mountaineers.
Going into the conference tournament, WVU’s NCAA tournament hopes were minimal. After shooting 30 percent in the game and missing 18 of its first 20 shots, West Virginia’s hopes for the Big Dance took a severe hit.
WVU’s starting five of Juwan Staten, Eron Harris, Devin Williams, Remi Dibo and Nathan Adrian combined to go 2-for-22 from the field.
After such a lopsided performance Thursday, the theme of the season became true once again for West Virginia. It’s inconsistent play was the ultimate downfall in regard to the NCAA tournament. But then again, maybe the NIT was the best situation for this group of players.