MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Don’t count Eron Harris among the legions who think West Virginia’s only shot at an NCAA bid is winning the Big 12 tournament.

He thinks winning the final two regular-season games would be enough to send the Mountaineers (16-13, 8-8) dancing.

“We still have a chance,” Harris said after West Virginia beat TCU 81-59 on Saturday. “I think if we get these next two games, we’re definitely in, regardless. They’re going to be tough, though.”

BOXSCORE: West Virginia 81, TCU 59

Yes, Wednesday’s trip to Oklahoma and Saturday’s home finale against Kansas look daunting in their own right. And taken as a tandem? Sheez. They’ll certainly be far tougher than the TCU team West Virginia dispatched with a 21-2 second-half run.

Harris led WVU with 18 points before playing postgame bracketologist.

“We’ve jut got to win those next two games,” he said. “If we do that, we’re in the tournament.”

The Mountaineers, who had dropped three straight games, remained in sixth place in the Big 12—one game up on Baylor and Oklahoma State in the loss column. Teams that finish in spots No. 7 through No. 10 must play a first-round game at the conference tourney, while the top six receive a bye.

That tournament just happens to transpire in Kansas City, where masses of Jayhawks fans turn the Sprint Center into Lawrence East. And reading between the lines of Harris’ comments, he rightly figures WVU has better odds of beating Kansas in Morgantown.

“The chance of winning the Big 12 Tournament is not big,” he said. “It’s the best league in the nation, and everyone in the league doesn’t have the same chance of winning it.”

SLOW FIRST HALF
As TCU led by six points early, shot 50 percent and trailed only 39-36 at the half, the Frogs (9-19, 0-16) seemed capable of finally snapping their conference skid.

“Our intensity level wasn’t as high as it needed to be for as high as the stakes were at this game,” point guard Juwan Staten said. “At halftime, Coach got to us and gave us a little piece of reality—told us what we needed to do if we had hopes of playing in the postseason.

“We came out in the second half with a different mentality.”

TCU made only 29 percent in the second half, and the biggest dropoff was point guard Kyan Anderson, going 0-of-5 and failing to add to his 10 points.

BOARD GAME
Out-rebounded in its previous five games, West Virginia owned the boards 44-29 against TCU, which had only one player taller than 6-foot-6 available.

Devin Williams paced WVU with 10 boards, part of his first double-double since Jan. 11.

“Yeah, Jan. 11 … how many months is that? That’s a long time,” Williams joked. I feel good and I feel like I worked for it. My mom always says what you put in is what you get out. So I’ve been trying to stay focused and prepare right.

“I actually got to play a whole game without fouling or getting in foul trouble, so that was a big part of it.”

TCU’s only true big man—6-foot-10 freshman Karviar Shepherd—scored 14 points but snagged only three rebounds in 38 minutes. Ray Jarvis, at 6-foot-6, grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.

FADING FROGS
With yet another Big 12 loss developing, TCU coach Trent Johnson sensed his guys “stopped competing” on a few late-game possessions.

“Got worn down. We’re not deep enough, we’re not talented enough to get a lot done at this level of play right now,” Johnson said. “But this was the first time in a long time I thought our guys shut it down late.

“I thought there was some fatigue, some frustration. And if you’ve ever been in that situation as a competitor, you know what that feels like.”


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Comments

  • The Real KeatonsCorner

    With the home loss to Baylor, the magic number is now 20 wins......

    Could have got in with 19 if we pulled off that victory.

    Another victory DOES secure a #1 seed in the NIT, whether it comes against OK, Kansas, or TCU in the B12 tournament.

  • Woodchuck

    WVU women beat Baylor! Tied for 1st in Big 12! Wake up WV and give them some media coverage.

  • Leroy j Gibbs

    Girls did great today.Beat Baylor@ Baylor! May get half the big 12 championship! That's the way to do it! Let's go mountaineers!!

  • Leroy j Gibbs

    Whatever. Bigs can't hang .nit champs

  • ole sasquatch

    That zone defense wreaked havoc on TCU. That is a tremendous help to the bigs. They are not chasing and are pretty much set to rebound and use their bodies for positioning more. Takes a lot of pressure off our bigs if we can get away with a zone. Let's try that again! Could be huge coming down to the end. HUGE, I say.
    Now is ole sasquatch right?

  • Country Roads

    It was good to see all at the game yesterday. Most of all we got the win. I know we beat OK here at home , when they had traveling problems, then if I'm not mistaking they came out and played sluggish and tired, I do not know if that traveling problems had anything to do with that or not , but we was winners at the end. If and a ( BIG IF ) we can win there and get KU who is number one in RPI win would that get us in the big dance..?????? Hope so..

    • Aaron

      I still believe with 13 losses, the magic number is 20 wins meaning they would have to make it to the finals of the Big 12 tournament to get in.

      I don't see that happening, especially if Henderson is not back at 100%.

      The thing is, they have no one to blame but themselves. Had they won 4 of the games against VA Tech, Wisconsin, Missouri, Gonzaga, or Purdue out of conference or won any of the close games they lost in conference, they would be in.

      Don't get me wrong, while I would love to see them make the NCAA's, I didn't have them in the NIT 2 months ago so I'm happy that this team has improved as much as they have.

      So much for the often quoted tripe that Coach Huggins can't coach any more.

      It's a great day to be a Mountaineer.

  • Low Rider

    I love Harris' optimism, but an NIT berth is more likely. I can't see WVU beating Oklahoma or Kansas without Henderson. Will 16-16 get us into the NIT? That is the real question.

    • Aaron

      They likely won't be 16-16. If they lose their final 2 games, the end the regular season 16-16, 8-10 in the Big 12 and the worst they could finish is 8th which would mean they play Texas Tech again. If Baylor doesn't jump them, WVU would finish 7th and get TCU again. Either way, a first game win is likely meaning they would finish 17-16 and with their RPI and Conference, that would get them in the NIT.

      • Low Rider

        Aaron I agree with your theory if we get TCU. Not convinced we can beat Texas Tech 3 times in the same year…so 16-16 is still a possibility.

        • Aaron

          I did a little research and even though no team with a sub-500 record has been invited, it is not against the rules thus a .500 WV team would be eligible.

          Given that the goal is to put the best teams NOT in the NCAA in the field, there is no way anyone can seriously state WV is not one of the top 98 teams in America, thus they will play in the NIT if they fail to make the NCAA's.

  • OKANYDAY

    Don't ever give up. With two more wins no one knows what will happen, so WVU just get the wins and let the chips fall where they may. Goooo Mountaineers !!!!!

  • jay zoom

    looks to me like harris got into the recipe after the game. NIT at best.

    • Aaron

      Didn't you say they wouldn't win another game after they beat Texas Tech on January 6th.

      And again after they beat Texas Tech on January 22?

      And again after wins over Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma?

      Keep on picking against them Jay, your record speaks volumes.

  • curly joe

    I missed it....where is Henderson?

    • Alum

      Out sick for the last couple of weeks. The Charleston papers ran a story on this a day or so ago.

  • Aaron

    Ok State beat Kansas, Kansas State beat Iowa State and Oklahoma beat Texas and West Virginia is still in 6th place in the best conference in America.

    I would love to go to the Big 12 Tournament.

  • mark

    Really enjoyed attending the game on family day. Our guys are easy to root for and have a great future--provided Staten returns and two guys sitting out are as good as advertised. Would love to see Williams figure out how to finish inside shots against top competition. Watkins is intriguing. Seems to have ability, but not sure about his fire or love of the game. Just hope Huggs doesn't discourage him.

  • 5toldU1s

    I hope I'm wrong but I think our best chance is to catch KU in Morgantown in a meaningless game for them and looking forward to getting back home for the tournament. But like Coach said, these are games that we can win. I suppose in the same sense that any team can theoretically beat any other team. A tall order indeed pghmountaineer. But we are true to our school and will be loud and proud brothers and sisters of the Mountain State!!!!!!!!!!

    • Aaron

      I don't believe there is anything theoretical about it. I'm watching OK State, the 7th place team ahead of KU, the 1st place team with 5 minutes and change. I also watched WVU at KU and even though KU won by 13, WVU had a chance to cut the lead to 5 with ~4 minutes left.

      I honestly believe the only team outmatched night in and night out by every other team is TCU. Other than that, any of the remaining teams could win the tournament if shots are falling.

      WVU's biggest issue will be if Henderson is not back as that one man does so much for this team. He allows Dibo no come off the bench, Adrian can switch to the 4, he can play and multitude of positions and defend different types of players and above all, he just has a confidence about him that his replacements do not.

      Without him, unless they finish 7th, I think they're 1 and done. With him, I think they can get to the semi-finals and possibly the finals if shots are falling the the bracket lines up right.

      I'm looking forward to the tournament.

  • Aaron

    Two wins may or may not get them in but one will guarantee a NIT bid, a tournament they are much more likely to win.

    If they do make the NCAA's, they might get one win.

    Maybe but that's not likely.

    A run to MSG though, can be as beneficial as one NCAA win.

    Plus it's the Garden.

  • pghmounaineer

    These guys are playing about as well as they can play. The loss of Henderson just can't be made up. Points against Oklahoma and Kansas will be hard to come by due to the fact that we won't be able to get enough production out of our bigs. I'll be pulling for them but it wil be a huge uphill battle.

    • Dave

      That's all we can do as fans is stay positive and continue to root for our team.