Despite dropping their last two games in convincing fashion, the West Virginia men’s basketball team remains with the same message: just keep winning.
The Mountaineers have been humbled twice this past week against two teams near them in the Big 12 Conference standings. The last two Saturdays have resulted in losses at Texas, 88-71, and an 88-75 decision against fellow bubble team, Baylor.
“It’s very deflating,” said sophomore guard Eron Harris. “But, just like you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. I don’t think it’s ever over for us.
“At the end of the day, the Big 12 tournament is what counts to get into the (NCAA) tournament. We’re just going to try to win the next one.”
The next one on the WVU schedule is a date with No. 15 Iowa State Wednesday in Ames, Iowa. The Mountaineers and Cyclones last met Feb. 10 when West Virginia earned its biggest win of the season with a 25-point victory.
This time around could prove to be a much more challenging fixture as Iowa State has gotten back to its winning way while the Mountaineers have gone in a different direction.
“We know Iowa State is going to come out and play well,” said junior guard Juwan Staten. “They definitely play well at home. They have a great atmosphere (and a) great crowd, so we just have to go out and be ready from the jump.”
With just four games remaining in the regular season, WVU sits at 15-12 with an even 7-7 conference record. The Mountaineers will be fighting for their postseason lives by playing all three of the top Big 12 schools. Only a March 1 date with TCU will feature a game where the opponent nestles beneath West Virginia in the standings.
“When we look ahead at our schedule, our next four games are going to be very tough,” Staten said. “But we’re not out. We feel like we can go on the road and win.
“We’ve proved we can play with any team in the conference, and we have four games to get it right and pick up our sense of urgency.”
The even-keeled Mountaineers have not lost faith in the future of their season despite dropping three of their last four contests. WVU actually defeated three of the four opponents remaining on the schedule the first time they met earlier in the 2013-14 season.
West Virginia has suddenly disappeared from the popular Bracketology predictions and is not part of the current plan of seven Big 12 schools making the Big Dance. For the Mountaineers, the game plan is to survive and advance.
“We know (Iowa State) is going to come out and deliver a hard blow early,” Staten said. “We need to sustain and deliver a couple of blows of our own.”
That motto could very well work for the rest of the season.
West Virginia and Iowa State will tip off Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the intimidating Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.