MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Sounding more like a second-year psych major than a sophomore shooting guard, Eron Harris could only surmise that subliminal hangups were to blame for West Virginia’s inability to beat good teams.

This was the aftermath of Saturday night’s 73-72 loss to No. 11 Oklahoma State—a game WVU led until the final 11.6 seconds.

“Maybe some people aren’t used to winning, aren’t used to being the guy that won the big game or the team that won the big game,” Harris said. “Some people are scared to be great like that.

“That’s a hump we need to get over. It’s a mental thing. At the end of the game can you be as confident as you are at the beginning of the game? In big games are you a confident as you are in small games?”

So deflating was the OSU loss—played before West Virginia’s largest home crowd of the season—that hangover questions persist for Monday night’s game against unranked Texas, which figures to draw far fewer than the 12,078 who showed up Saturday.

From a player’s perspective, Harris predicted his teammates would have their minds recharged for the Longhorns, whom WVU narrowly swept last season, winning 57-53 in Austin and 60-58 in Morgantown. Back then both teams were Big 12 bottom-feeders; this year each has designs on cracking the league’s upper-half.

“Every game in the Big 12 is going to be tough for us,” Harris said. “There’s no use in sulking about (Oklahoma State)—we need to move on a try to beat Texas.”

SCOUTING TEXAS
Tipoff: Monday, 7 p.m. in Morgantown (ESPNU)
Records: The Longhorns (12-4, 1-2) opened eyes with their 86-83 win at North Carolina on Dec. 18, the highlight of a 10-1 start. They’ve cooled off a bit but don’t have any bad losses—falling to BYU on a neutral floor, to Oklahoma State on the road and to Michigan State and Oklahoma at home. … West Virginia (10-6, 2-1) has dropped three straight games at the WVU Coliseum by a total of eight points, losing to Gonzaga 80-76, Purdue 73-70 and Oklahoma State 73-72.
RPIs: Texas is No. 59 and WVU is No. 78.
Coach: Proof that seats turn hot for coaches too quickly in college basketball, Rick Barnes (572-293 overall) endured questions about job security after Texas failed to reach the NCAAs last season. Never mind that Barnes had taken UT to the Dance in all 14 previous seasons. His record since coming to Austin in 1998-99 is 370-159, nearly a .700 winning percentage that includes the school’s only Final Four appearance and two other Elite Eights.
Texas top players: While Barnes has made an annual harvest of blue-chip talents, he found an underrated gem in true freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor—a three-star recruit out of Houston who was overlooked by other top-tier programs. So far Taylor has started all 16 games and is averaging 11.2 points and 3.8 assists. He’s one of four freshmen playing appreciable minutes. … Sophomore center Cameron Ridley (10.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.2 blocks) is a load at 6-9, 285 pounds and gets to the foul line almost seven times per game. …  Jonathan Holmes (12.7 points) is 6-8 stretch-four who sank a corner 3 to force overtime against WVU last season in Austin. … After starting 23 games as a freshman, Javan Felix (11.1 points, team-high 179 field-goal attempts) has taken to the sixth-man role this season. He’s a stocky 5-11 player comfortable penetrating or launching from 3. … Be on dunk alert if Demarcus Croaker catches the ball in transition. The 6-4 rookie has hops that could make Markel Brown envious.
WVU roster notes: Terry Henderson (11.9 points, 82-percent foul shooter) is coming off his best all-around game as a Mountaineer, compiling 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the loss to Oklahoma State. He has made clutch 3-pointers in back-to-back games—forcing overtime at Texas Tech and temporarily putting WVU ahead in the final 90 seconds against OSU. … Eron Harris (18.1 points), Juwan Staten (17.0 points) and Devin Williams (10.1 points) also score in double figures. … Harris is shooting better than 42 percent from 3s this season but only 28 percent in his last six games. He and all of WVU’s perimeter shooters figure to get open looks against Texas, which ranks last in the Big 12 in 3-point defense (35.6 percent). … Williams is fourth in the league in rebounding at 8.1 per game.
Line: West Virginia -4
Prediction: West Virginia 77-74
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Comments

  • Barry

    I say we win 15 games this year. This team is good enough to upset some teams.

    I don't see us making a run for the Big 12 title next year though. NCAA yes, Big 12 title no way. That is unrealistic I think. Hope I am wrong

  • pghmountaineer

    Mad, I'm not a betting man but don't assume tonight is a win as well as a win at Texas. They're better than you think.
    I like the improvement in this year's team but they have a long way to go and I don't see more than 4 wins the rest of the way.
    I think next year is the year we'll see a serious run at the League title. For this year, it will be growing pains.

    • madhatter

      i see improvement next yr, but running for the title,,, wow,,, don't think so,,, maybe mid pack, but we just don't have the muscle or the talent to compete,,and midpack may just get us to the big dance,,, earlier in the yr.. i said, we'd win ``14 games, this yr... that may turn out to be a stretch,, maybe wishful thinking, but imo, huggins simply does not have these guys coached up and ready to play, they are just not mechanically ready, miss too many plays that should have been solved in practice,,, poor poor coaching

  • madhatter

    hummm,,,, don't see us winning anymore away games this yr, hope i'm wrong, but look at the schedule, no powder puffs left to jump on.
    now , who can we beat at home,,, we should win tonight,, and we should beat texas away.
    that's it sports fans , two more wins..someone tell me where i'm wrong,,, if we win anymore than that, they would be upsets, right?

    • madhatter

      i screwed that up,,,but after reconsidering, we should beat texas both home and away,,,

  • Low Rider

    WVU just could not finish Saturday. Had 2 chances in the last minute and Staten missed on both. I think he puts too much pressure on himself to be the go to guy. Henderson was super hot…on one of those drives he should have kicked it out to Henderson…I was there…and he was feeling it.

    We need more production out of Adrian, Dibo, Noreen and Watkins. On Saturday they combined for a whopping 6 points. Williams can't carry the load inside by himself.

  • Aaron

    I would think that after the way Harris played Saturday he would be the last person to be calling out teammates. He needs to learn how to play within his game and stop trying to be something he's not.

    When he plays within himself, he is an asset to this team but when he tries to do things in which he lacks ability as he did Saturday, he is a liability. In my humble opinion, his play was the largest factor in WV’s loss on Saturday.

    • Barrett

      largest factor was a lack of defensive post presence. Big physical teams will continue to wear this team down.

      • Aaron

        I thought Watkins did a decent job, particularly given that he wasn't overpowered by any means.

        Okie State had numerous athletic moves in the post including several up and under's and their players out jumped Watkins for more than a few rebounds but at no time did I see him getting pushed around.

        On the offensive end, he was effective as well, so much so that when the ball went inside, coverage collapsed immediately.

        The biggest problem inside is that WV had no one other than Watkins and he got tired, which you could tell.

        To me, if Harris plays within his capabilities, the team doesn't relax when Smart goes out and allows a 9-0 run and Watkins get's just a little help, they could have won by a dozen.

  • john b

    WVU is favorite by 4pts. Which means they have to win by more than 4 to win the bet. If they win by 4 it is a tie or a push win by 3 or less or lose the game and you lose the bet.

  • rekterx

    Brutal league ... just brutal.

  • 5toldU1s

    Can't have a big hangover from the OS loss. Eron has the right idea. But it's one thing to say it, quite another to do it. GO MOUNTAINEERS!

  • nashville cat

    i don't think allan is telling you to pick either way, he's just telling you the spread, it's up to you to figure out how you think you can beat the vegas odds makers.

    • Hop'sHip

      So you mean Allan isn't guaranteeing his picks like those guys I always hear on the radio? Come to think about it, after seeing his success rate in predicting football games straight up this past season, I guess I shouldn't have a lot of confidence in any of his predictions. WVU covers. take it to the bank... err....bookie.

  • nashville cat

    wvu is favored by 4,,, a plus 4 means to make the game even texas is given four pts.
    vegas betting includes these numbers, you can't just pick a winner, you must give or take points.
    i have heard of must games,,, any home game for anyone usually is a must win game, for wvu, we have now dropped one home game , and wehave to think that we can easily lose every away game remaining on the schedule, I concur. And it looks very likely we will lose several home games,,, ex, iowa st. kansas, kansas st, baylor, so if we have any hopes of an nit bid, we have got to over achieve at home...sad day to be an eer

  • Hop'sHip

    As one who doesn't bet on games could someone clarify that betting line for me? Does -4 mean that WVU is favorite in this game by 4 points. And is Allan telling us to take Texas with the points?