A whole lot on the line tonight

3.17

Do me a favor today: Ask someone to take a guess at WVU’s record against the last 20 ranked opponents. You’re free to call that a person a dirty cheater if the answer is 3-17. But that’s the truth, as you can see, and a 13-game losing streak against schools with a number next to their names will do that kind of damage.

I was kind of shocked when I discovered that Sunday. I know, I know, the Mountaineers are prone to play a lot of ranked teams in the Big 12 and the Big East and given the way Bob Huggins likes to arrange his non-conference schedule. And I know, I know, WVU hasn’t been all that great of late — in fact, the Mountaineers have been ranked just once in those matchups.

But I find it extremely hard to believe a Huggins-led team hasn’t won any of the past 13 and more of the past 20. Call me naive, but it’s difficult to accept.

Slightly less frequent is a ranked visitor in non-conference play. No. 20 Gonzaga — leading the nation in field goal and 3-point shooting percentage, by the way — is just the sixth ranked non-conference team to play in the Coliseum since the turn of the century.

No. 7  Tennessee won by a point in 2000, thanks in no small part to a very questionable traveling call on Calvin Bowman and whistled by Timothy Higgins. Since then, the Mountaineers have won five in a row in the Coliseum against ranked non-conference teams.

Average crowd: 13,692. Range: 11,139 to 15,033.

You see where this is going, and perhaps WVU did, too, by offering $10 tickets for the 9 p.m. game on ESPN2. In so many ways, whether to end a losing streak or to extend a winning streak, to prove themselves to themselves or to their fans, the Mountaineers need this one.

“I need it for my psyche,” he said from a blue seat on the baseline Monday afternoon. “I’m tired of walking in here and seeing so many empty seats.”

18 Responses to “A whole lot on the line tonight”

  1. tls62pa says:

    I fondly remember beating #2 UCLA my freshman year. Buddy and I had plans to go wait in line real early, since I think it was like an 11:30am tipoff. Of course, like most freshmen, I went to Shooters the night before and got sloppy drunk. Needless to say, I was not in line to go to the game. Thank god for my diehard fan friend! Called me to say he had a seat saved and to get my behind out there. Got there at tip off, and rushed the court with the rest at the end!

    UCLA was a Final Four team that year. They were missing a big starter for the game against us, but I don’t remember who. Still a big win for a dangerous West Virgina (yes, I spelled it correctly for ’06-’07) team

  2. netbros says:

    To get back to where they were in the past decade, you need to win your home games, no matter the level of competition.

    It’s a chicken and egg thing. If they beat Gonzaga, the crowds will follow. Big wins against big teams will convince the fence-sitters and fair-weather types to get out to the games.

    If you want 13-14,000 for Kansas and Ok. State, you need to beat Gonzaga and Purdue and hold serve against the bottom half of the conference.

  3. Peter Bodensteiner says:

    That was the year we missed the tourney despite having beaten UCLA, henceforth referred to as UCLA (without Collison) in every bubble team analysis the rest of the year.

  4. Ted says:

    Right on netbros. Hugs–we’re not the Chicago Cubs. You want meat in the seats? Then win some games against quality opponents–it’s not rocket science.

  5. Bobby Heenan says:

    @ tls62pa:

    That was the UCLA game where Teddy Ballgame about tore the roof off the building when he hit a three. I recall him having 5 points in like a three minute stretch and he took a heat check three that barely missed. I turned to my buddy and remarked that the place was going to explode if he would have made it to go 3 for 3. What a great game that was.

  6. tls62pa says:

    I laughed the first time Talkington hit a three, like it was a joke. The second time I was flipping out. If he made that third one, I was rushing the court THEN!

  7. pknocker40 says:

    UCLA started a precocious freshman named Russell Westbrook in place of Collison that day

  8. Rugger says:

    13 in a row? Boy Scouts of America has a name for that……Weblow!

  9. Drew says:

    The scrub who replaced Collison in UCLA’s lineup was none other than NBA superstar Russell Westbrook. Not a bad replacement.

  10. Bobby Heenan says:

    They went to their bench to get Westbrook (1 of 11, 4 points, 5 fouls). We went to ours to get Ted Talkington.

    Advantage: Mountaineers.

  11. PeterB says:

    Was Kevin Love on that UCLA team too?

  12. PeterB says:

    To answer my own question, Love arrived at UCLA the following season. His current T-Wolves teammate, Mbah a Moute, was, though.

  13. hershy112 says:

    And then of course, there is this UCLA game:

    http://espn.go.com/ncb/recap?gameId=260210026

    I remember going nuts on my couch in my apartment when Gansey swiped it from Farmar.

  14. smeer says:

    wasn’t it fun to watch that group of “less than athletic but basketball IQs through the roof” play basketball?

    I still lament Beiliein leaving.

    it was just basketball poetry

  15. smeer says:

    none of the wins came away from the friendly confines of the coliseum

  16. Gordo says:

    I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.

    http://youtu.be/p2Aexji3Zyg

  17. lowercase jeff says:

    smeer – chu talking bout man?

    @ ucla
    @ nc st

    plus about half a dozen road conference wins against highly ranked pitt, gtown, nova, and others