No moral victories for WVU in loss to Kansas
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 07:01
For the third time in its five conference losses this season, the West Virginia men’s basketball team lost by less than five points.
Monday was a little different. Instead of a game that was back-and-forth for 40 minutes, this one was at the hands of No. 1 Kansas – a team that was up 15 on the Mountaineers midway through the first half.
But head coach Bob Huggins’ message remained the same following the loss to the Jayhawks as it had been following every other close loss for his struggling Mountaineers.
There are no moral victories – even against one of the best teams in the country.
"I don’t know how it’s a good game when you lose," Huggins said. "I’m not big on losing."
For the most part, it’s been a familiar trend for the Mountaineers to play a tougher opponent well. The big question for the team as it heads into a matchup on the road against a struggling Texas Tech team will be whether it find some sort of consistency and carry over the momentum from Monday’s loss.
"We always play pretty good in the tough games, and then we feel like we’re moving in the right direction, and then we go to a team that’s definitely not as good as the team we played, and we fall off," said sophomore point guard Juwan Staten. "We kind of play to the level of our competition, and we just have to take that same intensity out there to the next game.
"(Texas Tech) is not one of the better teams in the Big 12, but record-wise neither are we, so this is definitely going to be a must-win game."
With the loss, West Virginia fell to 2-5 in Big 12 play, a 9-11 overall record and ranking of No. 101 in the RPI. The postseason window for the Mountaineers to earn a sixth consecutive bid into the NCAA tournament is starting to close with each game.
But the outlook remains the same. They know they have to keep pushing because when they quit fighting, they’re finished.
"We’re still pushing to get to the NCAA tournament," said junior center Aaric Murray. "It’s just frustrating to keep losing so much and having people that are counting on you feel like they should have never counted on you to do what you’re supposed to do.
"We get all this support from the West Virginia fans, and for us to come out and keep losing like this – it’s just embarrassing and frustrating."
Like it’s been all season, that turnaround starts with putting together a consistent 40 minutes. After falling behind 20-7 in the first 10 minutes of Monday’s game, the Mountaineers outscored Kansas 49-40 in the final 30 minutes of the contest.
But after cutting the Kansas lead to 48-46 midway through the second half, the Jayhawks responded quickly with a 7-0 run to put the Mountaineers out of reach.
"They made shots (early), and we didn’t," Huggins said.
"What kills us is execution, and execution down the stretch has just killed us."