MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU hoops had a lot of time to think about its disappointing loss to Texas.
After the Mountaineers fell to the then-No. 4 Longhorns by two points on Jan. 9, their stretch of three postponements in a row began.
The rest of that story is well-documented: most of head coach Bob Huggins’ team was restricted for a two-week period before the team resumed its Big 12 schedule Saturday at K-State.
But in that game, the Mountaineers delivered a solid performance. With minimal signs of rust, West Virginia rolled to a 69-47 victory, marking the program’s most lopsided win ever in a Big 12 road game.
Everything that went into that win — from the heartbreaking end to the previous outing to the long layoff caused by COVID-19 — made it all the more meaningful, according to Huggins.
“We were down to basically four guys. Not all because of COVID, but, well, the contact tracing and everything that goes along with it,” Huggins said. “Then, we had a guy who was hurt and needed some rest, so we basically had four guys. Hard to get anything done with four.”
Before the matchup in Manahattan, Huggins spoke to his players about the importance of that particular contest, and how a victory on the road could help put the team back on course after navigating an unfortunate situation.
West Virginia wasn’t perfect in the winning effort, but it did play inspired defense, logging 13 steals and forcing K-State to commit a season-worst 28 turnovers.
“I feel like — and Coach Huggins was saying this the last two days of practice — that was our biggest game of the season, because that’s a huge test to take, what was it, 11 days off and then go play after two days of practice. Some guys only got one day of practice,” redshirt freshman forward Jalen Bridges said. “That’s super hard to do, especially at this level, Power 5 basketball. So I feel like this game, going forward, will be a huge one for us to get us rolling again.”
A tougher test is quickly approaching, as West Virginia will host nationally ranked Texas Tech Monday at the Coliseum. But after that win over K-State, many Mountaineers relished the opportunity to return to action.
“It felt great,” sophomore guard Miles McBride said. “I’m blessed to be able to play this sport, be out there with my brothers, competing. There’s nothing better than that.”