Texas game a big step back for WVU - The Daily Athenaeum: Sports

Texas game a big step back for WVU

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Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:55 pm

Everything took a turn for the worse in West Virginia’s 80-69 loss to Texas Monday evening in the Coliseum.

At one point in the game, the Mountaineers and Longhorns were tied at 23. Following that, Texas opened up the game and went on to a convincing victory. Even when WVU made a run, Texas responded in one way or another.

Texas (13-4, 2-2 Big 12) shot 52.7 percent from the field, and outrebounded WVU 49-30. It wasn’t just a matter of West Virginia getting over a devastating loss to No. 11 Oklahoma State Saturday evening. Head coach Bob Huggins’ squad just couldn’t find an answer for Texas’ physical play.

On top of that, the Mountaineers couldn’t get it going shooting-wise. WVU shot just 37.7 percent from the field, including an abysmal 16 percent from 3-point territory. West Virginia also missed seven free throw shots on the evening.

Texas had 18 turnovers to the Mountaineers’ six. It wasn’t enough to even put West Virginia in contention to win the game.

While it seemed the Mountaineers were finally getting close to being pretty good, Monday night’s result may have solidified West Virginia as just a mere average ball club in 2013-14.

It seems to be a pattern of West Virginia teams in recent years. With Monday’s disappointing showing, the Mountaineers still lack a true quality win on their NCAA Tournament resume.

With this result, West Virginia’s chances took a severe hit. Even with only four games completed in Big 12 play, time is starting to run out, and with Kansas State coming up on the road, the Mountaineers may need to get going on a winning streak to even have a chance at postseason play.

One of the Mountaineers’ positives this season has been junior guard Juwan Staten. Coming into the game against the Longhorns, he was No. 5 in the Big 12 Conference in scoring with 17.0 points per game and No. 2 in the league in assists with 6.1 per game.

Only Texas Tech has more losses on the season than West Virginia in the Big 12. With this defeat, the Mountaineers dropped to 10-7 and 2-2 in league play.

Just when everything seemed to be falling in place, Monday night washed all of that away. Who knows what lasting effect it could have in the upcoming games, but I didn’t see a team that was even remotely close to where it needs to be in terms of body language, flow and overall playing as a collective unit.

Two wins on the road to start conference play was surely a good sign for the Mountaineers. The biggest heartbreaker of the season, followed by the most embarrassing result, may just change everyone’s mindset on this team.

Is this year’s team better than the 2012-13 team that just won 13 times all year? You could say that, but how much is that really saying?

The main question lies in whether West Virginia can consistently bounce back from these types of results. Whether it’s a double-digit loss or a one-point loss similar to Saturday’s crushing defeat against the Cowboys, WVU needs to learn how to mature and forget the adversity that is brought its way.

The Mountaineers must learn it the hard way against a Big 12 team that may be the deepest it’s been in years.

Nights like Monday, however, only make it seem like West Virginia isn’t as improved as everyone thought. Stay tuned.

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