MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As the end of the regular season nears, West Virginia remains in the bottom half of the conference with a 3-7 mark. It’s three games back from the middle of the pack, and with its schedule over the next week, it’s going to be a challenge to gain some ground in the standings.
The Mountaineers will face three consecutive top-15 opponents. It starts on Wednesday as they host #11 Iowa State. A trip to the Lone Star state follows with contests at #5 Texas on Saturday and #14 Baylor on Monday.
The Longhorns lead the league at 8-3 while the Cyclones sit in second place at 7-3. The Bears are one of three Big 12 teams with a 6-4 mark.
“We wouldn’t be in the shape we are in now if we just made two-footers. We haven’t,” Bob Huggins said. “We shot ourselves in the foot because we just didn’t make what are extremely makable shots. We just miss shots you shouldn’t miss. That’s why we ended up where we are.”
It was a pretty rough start to league faction or Huggins and company. WVU started on a five-game skid before it knocked off ranked TCU for its first Big 12 victory. Only one of those five games didn’t come down to the final possessions. It also missed a total of 56 free throws over that span.
Six of West Virginia’s seven conference losses have been decided by eight points or less.
“The fact of the matter is if everybody played to their potential, we’re really good. Everybody hasn’t,” Huggins said.
Now, the Old Gold and Blue did take a step in the right direction in the dominant win over Oklahoma, its most decisive Big 12 victory.
In that 32-point win over the Sooners, a number of players showed what they are capable of. Erik Stevenson reached a career-high 34 points. James Okonkwo notched his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Mohammed Wague blocked three shots and fought for just about every loose ball in sight.
“Erik is just starting to play to what we thought he would be. Tre carried us for a while and now he’s struggling just a little bit,” Huggins said. “Jimmy is scoring it better down there. Mo is scoring better down there. James has got exponentially better. I don’t think anybody would say we are like the team we were. We’re not. I think we are better.”
Huggins added that sophomore Seth Wilson is “very capable” of having a big scoring night as Stevenson did against OU. Wilson hit a career-high 15 points at Texas Tech at the end of January.
West Virginia and No. 11 Iowa State tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.