MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Donning a USS West Virginia hat handed to him by a military veteran after Saturday’s upset of Kansas, Bob Huggins suddenly looked like a confident commander and not the coach of a sinking ship.

West Virginia, which had dropped four of five games to tumble out of NCAA consideration, closed the regular season with a dose of adrenaline by knocking off the No. 8 Jayhawks 92-86.

While the victory earned Huggins a $25,000 bonus, he joked that taxes could reduce that to only $10,000. More than incentive clauses, however, Huggins was interested in the payoff that could await his team when the conference tournament opens Wednesday in Kansas City.

Currently, West Virginia projects as an NIT team. But by finishing .500 in the nation’s toughest league and matching Baylor for sixth place, the Mountaineers (17-14, 9-9) could catch the selection committee’s focus by winning games against a resume-boosting obstacle course next week.

While West Virginia earned a first-round bye, it’s quarterfinal opponent on Thursday night will be third-seeded Texas, which dominated both regular-season meetings. That game’s survivor likely would play the Oklahoma-Baylor winner in the semifinals.

“We’re going to have opportunities to really help our RPI and get quality wins,” Huggins said. “We’ve just got to go win some games.”

SMART MOVE
Ignore the grousing about West Virginia’s slow-down tactic contributing to the Kansas comeback. Huggins’ decision around the 12-minute mark to take the air out of a few possessions was crucial after Remi Dibo, Nate Adrian and Juwan Staten encountered foul trouble.

Sure, WVU sacrificed some momentum and aggression by eating clock, but a Kansas charge was inevitable—as was WVU cooling off. After trailing by 25 points, the Jayhawks switched into desperation mode by deploying its halfcourt trap, all in an effort to speed up the pace and create extra possessions.

Huggins countered by essentially shortening the game, while leaving the ball in Staten’s hands. That proved valuable once Kansas really heated up late. By the time the Jayhawks made it a two-possession deficit, less than a minute remained. Had that occurred around the 2-minute mark, who knows how WVU might have coped with the pressure.

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Comments

  • EER fan 1

    I couldn't believe the officiating down the stretch. I'd still like to know what Hahn said to warrant a technical at that point in the game. It must have been something pretty horrible considering he was sitting on the bench. The travel call on Williams was an absolute joke. There were a handful of others that were garbage as well. But I also worry about our press break. For some reason the guy in-bounding the ball never runs the baseline. Every other team runs the baseline as soon as they get the ball, which spreads the defense. We just stand there and they only have to cover half of the court. Something to work on going forward...

  • joe

    Hello Wiiliam ???????

  • wvunut

    Hey William don't see you on here this time don't have nothing to gloat about this time I cant believe that you are a WVU fan and laugh when they loose that is low. the way you bad mouth sweatsuit Huggins why don't to go to Morgantown and say to him what you post on here? Great win for a young team I really enjoy watching this team play more so than last year

  • jay zoom

    the only opportunities they will have is sitting in the stands watching the rest of the tourney after the loss to Texas. the deal on the Jersey was huggins tried to pull a fast one - he should of been ejected' and Kevin should of been banned from tournament play read the rules.

    • Tony

      jay zoom, you are unbelievable. yea coach really tried to pull a fast one. Get a life!!!!!

    • EER fan 1

      Huggins purposely cut Noreen's back so that he would have to go through two jerseys and leave the game for a couple of minutes to get it bandaged up? That makes sense. Quality comment...thanks for sharing your insight.

    • Aaron

      Man, it really rubs you the wrong way when Huggins team wins.

      Why? What did he do to you? You didn't by chance try to walk on and not make it did you?

  • Baldeagle

    I agree with jwg66, I felt Huggs started the slow down just a little too soon. I thought we came out in the second half and continued pushing them back on their heels. Bad things started to happen when we slowed down to eat the clock and I am just not comfortable with Hugg's inbound schemes…other teams seem to be able to overcome them after the first or second inbound play. At least we had a good lead and fought them off on several occasions and outlasted them for a great win.

    • DWM

      Baldeagle and jwg66,

      Re-read your posts and see if you don't laugh outloud. Here are two guys that most likely have never coached basketball criticizing the game management of a guy with 739 collegiate D1 wins and a certain Hall of Famer.

      I'm sure Huggs would be more than happy if you could school him on his limited inbound play selection.

      I think that's hilarious.

  • Baldeagle

    Beside the technical, which I missed, what was the deal with Kevin's jersey?

    • JC

      He had a cut on his back and the ref saw blood soaking through. He tried to change jerseys, but it soaked through again so he left the game to get the cut taken care of.

  • Baldeagle

    Oh William, where are you William?

  • Steve

    All the Marshall trolls are mad about WVU's win over Kansas!

    I love it!

  • wenkev

    I think the difference was Huggins' Sweatsuit.:)

  • Alex

    Very good, outstanding, all around performance. WVU played one of the best games all year, balance at all points. I think that is the way Huggs pictured those guys playing when he recruited them. The problem is this year they have not been consistent but they will learn from this year for sure. How about Williams? I thought his performance set the pace for us. Outstanding, By the time he is a senior hey could be the dominating big man in the conference ......Great win.

  • lantz

    Between Huggs slow down in the 2nd half and the bought off refs I thought it was gonna be an epic fail. Oh well great win...

  • Leroy j Gibbs

    What was the technical foul about?

  • jwg66

    I must admit, I was concerned we stopped attacking to soon. Their pressure nearly worked. But some good free throw shooting at the end preserved a great W. I really enjoyed Williams and Staten today. Whole tem played with energy but their performances were special. What ever happens in the B12 tourney, this team has a big upside! Go Mountaineers!

  • Big Daddy C

    congrats coach,we really needed this.
    LETS GO MOUNTAINEERS

  • Mister Man

    I like the cap. I have one,