It was February 8 and West Virginia had just lost by 14 points to No. 8 Kansas, the Mountaineers giving in after giving up a run they tried to hard to avoid for the first 35 minutes. The locker room lecture from Bob Huggins was short by comparison and it pointed toward the future.
“I just told them in there, ‘We’re going to win in Morgantown. When they come back to Morgantown, we’re going to win. We’re going to figure out how to win,’ ” Huggins revealed.
Messages come from the top on this team, and in the hallway outside the locker room a few minutes later, Eron Harris echoed his coach.
“I think we’re going to be fine,” he said. “This is our first time playing Kansas this year. They had a great crowd, like they always do. We’ve got to get some better play from some people, including myself. But we’ll be fine. I’m very confident in that. I’m ready to play them again. At home last year, we lost by five. We’re better than last year. I’m happy we got to play against them. Like I said, the next time, we’re going to know them a lot better. We’ll be fine.”
What that did in the moment probably can’t be overstated. The Mountaineers had played Oklahoma three days earlier and won to end a 16-game losing streak to ranked teams. They then battled whistles and foul trouble and the opponent’s depth to stick around for much of the game before the bending begat breaking. Two days later, they were to play Iowa State.
WVU won that game and the Sooners-Cyclones upsets seemed to reposition the season and aim it toward something some had hoped for and only few had expected. Yet the Mountaineers lost three in a row a after that and have won only once since, and now here comes Kansas. WVU can speak and act as confidently, but WVU isn’t playing as confidently, which is the worst case because the silver lining a month ago was that the Mountaineers had been close despite playing below-average basketball on the road.
“I thought we played pretty well there,” he said. “It was a four-point game with (five) minutes to go,” Huggins said. “Terry played probably the worst game he’s played since he’s been here. Remi made some shots early, then didn’t make any. I thought we could play a lot better.”
That’s the goal today. Finding a way to win, in all honesty, doesn’t require a lengthy search. “Make shots,” Huggins said.
Make post, Mike said.
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