So the Internet was not cooperative for a few of us at the arena last night, where there was not much united spirit late in an overofficiated West Virginia win against Texas Tech. And that’s a shame because I was funnier than hell watching it all unfold. You’ll have to take my word for it, but the Mountaineers survived Texas Tech and its inside game and suddenly potent shooters and scoring.
As it stands, WVU is alone in the Big 12 until at least tonight and a not impossible series of wins by Baylor over Iowa State, Kansas over Oklahoma and TCU over Kansas State this week would have WVU alone in first place for Saturday’s home game against No. 11 Oklahoma State. At the very worst, it’s a tie. “Significant,” is what Eron Harris said about the 2-0 start.
The Mountaineers could be in a very different place this morning with a 1-1 record had they given in to Dusty Hannahs and Jordan Tolbert and had Jaye Crockett’s surprisingly open 3 from the Corner of Doom gone down just before the buzzer of the three-point win. They’re not, though, because WVU handled one possession games quite admirably once again. They scored on five straight up to and including Juwan Staten’s odd technical foul.
(Aside before I fly and skate back home: I’m of the opinion WVU has a problem with John Higgins. It’s hard to watch their games and their interactions the past year-and-a-half and think otherwise.)
Then came scores on the first seven overtime possessions, including a massive swipe and score by Nate Adrian in what was really his only play of note on the game — and we ought to note that Adrian is in what you’d assume is the “best five defenders” lineup these days.
There were many good souvenirs for the Mountaineers, though, from the execution when it mattered to handling plucky home teams to Terry Henderson’s perpetual and sometimes inexplicable swagger to the intriguing Devin Williams/Brandon Watkins combo.
Those were character building contests for a team that always knew it was capable of playing hard and now knows it can do that to win and do so away from home. All in all, not much more could have gone right for a team that only has seven more left on the road.
“It’s always fun to win by a nice margin, but these are the games you live for,” Staten said. “Everybody wants to play college basketball in a close game that goes down to the wire. We prepare for it every day in practice. We went out. We competed. We got it done.”