KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Vacant stares. Explanations that tailed off into mumbling and I-don’t-knows. The dazed-and-confused Mountaineers were at a loss to clarify what happened, and what didn’t, against Texas.

Down a dozen before the first TV timeout. Trailing by 21 at the half. Put down before some of the crowd had even sat down.

The team that swept the leg on Kansas spent five ensuing days ramping up to convince the Big 12 congregation that West Virginia was NCAA-worthy. That contention vanished quicker than a plate of Jack Stack barbecue as WVU struggled to hang up 14 first-half points. It eventually found itself getting smoked by 30 during the second half before those compassionate Texas walk-ons afforded a less egregious 66-49 final.

BOXSCORE: Texas 66, West Virginia 49

“I certainly didn’t see it coming,” said Bob Huggins.

“Seemed like we were deer in headlights,” said Juwan Staten.

“It came out of nowhere,” added Gary Browne.

Actually, it came out of Austin, in the form of a Longhorns team that had WVU’s number all season … and realized it. We’ve read stories, skimmed Tweets and watched HD broadcasts of the Longhorns looking rather ordinary—they nearly were swept by Texas Tech!—but put them on a court with West Virginia and they become Team Invincible.

“They beat us three times. There’s something they’re doing that bothers us,” said Mountaineers guard Eron Harris, who was bothered into a 1-of-5 shooting night. He scored a season-low three points, spared from a shutout only by his 3-pointer with 5:41 left in a long-lost game. Sixteen seconds later he fouled out.

“We beat the best team in the conference (Kansas), but for some reason that team right there (Texas) gives us trouble,” he said.

The trouble came quick and fiercely Thursday night. While Jonathan Holmes and Javan Felix were striking for double figures in the first half, no West Virginia starter scored a point in the first 11 minutes.

Staten, unofficially charged with carrying this team throughout the season, showed a reckless edge in trying to jolt the Mountaineers into a competitive state. But even he was painfully ineffective, shooting 1-of-9 in the first half and missing two more attempts after the break.

With Texas committed to cutting off WVU’s point guard, there were no points to be had.

“It’s definitely frustrating when shots are hard to come by and the shots you do get are rimming in and out,” Staten said.

The hole was 21-6 when he made his lone basket, which came after picking the pocket of UT freshman Isaiah Taylor. With the breakaway all to his lonesome, Staten didn’t explode for one of his hammer dunks; instead he barely laid the ball over the rim.

The 35-14 halftime score was a doozy. In West Virginia’s case, a deflating doozy.

“We had a great week of practice,” Browne said after the game. He was seated in front of a locker, barely looking up as he trimmed tape from his ankles. “I thought we understood what this tournament meant for us.”

Thursday’s quarterfinal lineup at the Sprint Center drew 18,000-plus, who primarily will recall two exceptional games and one that became enticing late. Staten and the Mountaineers had been in those bleachers midday, soaking up the shot-making gallery of Iowa State-Kansas State and the hyper-charged climate for Kansas-Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers had beaten three of those teams and come close twice against OSU. The Mountaineers sensed they belonged at this event.

“The gym was packed, great games being played, the fan base was great—everything was set up for us to go out and be successful,” Staten said.

Success now must be measured in the NIT or perhaps one of the even lesser tourneys. Surely, after being unable to mount even a moment’s challenge in such a must-win game, this notion of the selection committee giving WVU even a courtesy glimpse must be buried. Yet Huggins wasn’t sure.

“We were sixth in the best league in the country,” he said. “Are we one of the 60-however-the-hell-many-there-are (best teams) now? Yeah, I think we are. … Sure we are. Right now we are.”

Given the way WVU went quietly into the tournament night, you half-wondered if Huggins was reading from a teleprompter whose script was three hours old.

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Comments

  • TW EAGLE

    after beating Kansas , the Mountaineers partied till the beginning of the second half of their opening game in the XII conference tournament ?

    this season has been worse than an exciting roller coaster ride . . . it has been a trip through a 'horror house" . . . K St & this final UT debacle being the lowest of the low . . . Kansas & ISU being the highlights . . .

    WHY , when the Mounties win , coach Huggins is a genius HOF coach . . . and when the Mounties lose Huggins is a genius HOF coach with players too "stupid" to execute his winning game plans . . . ? . . .

  • Mtneers1

    Texas put there guys in the paint, didn't allow Staten to penetrate, and challenged WVU to beat them from the outside. And when we aren't knocking down the shots from the outside we don't have the personel on the inside to make a difference.

    • Mister Man

      No. They stretched "their" defense and disrupted our outside game.

    • Hop'sHip

      That's a pretty good analysis. When I saw those first shots we took miss badly, I knew we were in for a long night. I just didn't realize how long. I do hope everyone comes back and we see how much they can improve. Off-season development is crucial for this team.

  • Aaron

    Selection Monday, or whenever the NIT announces should be interesting. Hopefully they don't match WVU up against a team that big inside.

    As to Texas, I'm sure Felix would love to play WVU 30 games a season, He would be all-world. The kid that was 5-29 over the last 3 games forgot to show up.

    As a fan, this team that can play lights out one week and then stink it up the next is baffling and frustrating to me. I have no idea how a coach like Huggins handles it.

    While I hate the loss, it's still a great day to be a Mountaineer!!!

    • mad hatter

      bob huggins is a HOF,, and remember,, he gets paid , win or lose.. he makes 10 grand a day, and the players don't get hardly anything.

      It's time the players get paychecks just like bad boy.
      this is frustrating , and annoying to me , one week he coaches well the next week he doesn't.
      BUt back in the good ole days at Cinn. we were good, no.1 seed until martin broke his leg. But these guys, well..

      it's frustrating.

      • Aaron

        So who you guys gonna replace Herrion with Barry?

        • mad hatter

          johnson with macintosh

  • jay zoom

    you are so right (Phil M.) at least the ladies gave us something to cheer about this year and they never got the respect they deserved. Carey and his ladies gave the state something to be proud of. LOVE YOU LADIES -- one last comment about Huggins then again maybe not. HOW MUCH DID IT COST THE A.D. TO SEND HIS ( huggins) CHAIR TO KANSAS CITY FOR THE GAME. probably took it out of the $20.00 parking lot fund.

    • OKANYDAY

      Fat Huggins waddles around like a north bound freight trying to decide if to go east or west.

  • steve

    It happens. Get over it. 9-9 in the best conference in America in the second year, not bad. Get over yourself people, Huggie isnt going anywhere, nor should he.

  • Phil M.

    What ever happened to "Mountaineer Pride."

    We have a really good women's basketball team and not one vendor on-line much less the university has even made a t-shirt acknowledging their regular season Big 12 Championship.

    As Vince Lombardi once said, " what the hell is going on out there."

    Come on WVU you can do better.

  • jay zoom

    I said all week this was a one and done for the Mountaineers. only a few believed me. Huggins and his so called Mighty Mountaineers embarrassed themselves and the State of West Virginia. This team is playing in a league they don't belong in. If Staten injury keeps him out of the NIT if we get an invite it will be one and done again. THANKS OLLIE.

    • Aaron

      Your basketball analysis leaves much to be desired.

      • Aaron

        I am aware that your extremely baffled Barry.

        It's common knowledge.

        • mad hatter

          aaron or whatever you call yourself today, it's too cool that you think i am barry , i get a chuckle out of your ineptness, though the think you've solved a crime like columbo.. however , i will play along cause as long as you think you're right, then i win,,, you are so retarded, and this whole board knows it.

          • Aaron

            Of course you win Barry. It's as if no one else is playing your game.

      • mad hatter

        i concur,, aaron, you simply amaze me with your vast knowledge, i hope YOUR still on the bandwagon, but with YOU'RE attitude from game to game, i am baffled and frustrated.

    • Mitch

      @ jay zoom,

      O.K. where do we belong dum***?

    • graywv

      Some people "believe" that they can predict how a game is going to go, they should be working for ESPN or in Los Vegas, makeing big money, not trolling on Metro-sports, any real fan knew before going in that Texas has beaten us badly twice because of an inside game we don't have. When defense is not a priority to some players, you are going to have nights like this. I still love my Mountaineers, just like I am sure Kansas fans did last week after their blow out loss! 6th place in this league is pretty good, the pieces are their and coming, for much improvement next season, as long as the team sticks together and works hard in the off season and we as fans show strong support! Remember what some real good recruits had to say after watching the fans rush the floor, last weeks Kansas win, they moved WVU to the front of their list, we need to show support, the team wanted to win as badly as we did.

    • richard

      oh but they belonged in the big east basketball league? considered one of the best conferences ever put together? it was called a beast league! they did quite well in that league if i remember correctly.

  • Mike

    Huggins is delusional. Someone should seriously check him out if he still thinks this team is good enough for the NCAA. He can't admit how bad his program has become, or refuses to look at his record the last 3 years.

    • mad hatter

      the days of wine and roses.........2004

    • mad hatter

      no one in the athletic program really cares,, especially huggins, and luck. They 're getting fat checks every two weeks,win or lose... it's baffling and annoying, one week he coaches well the next week he doesnt''
      At least we'll get an invitation to the NIT, hope we don't have to play anyone with players taller than 6'2", it would be a shame to have to box out or rebound or get off the floor more than two inches.
      But it will all be fixed when macon and holton are there next yr... really next yr is the yr, a 25 win season, a big 12 title and a no. 1 or 2 seed.. have faith,,, Luck and Huggie will figure it out...Fix it Bob is on the ball.

  • Phil M.

    I'm sorry, I love Huggs but in all fairness you can't put Dana on the hot seat for the way his team has performed so far and not have Huggs right there with him.

    It is what it is. Poor recruitting plain and simple.

    • mtnmarv

      I agree 100 percent. !!!

    • Aaron

      If you're claiming Huggs can't recruit, that myth's been debunked half a dozen times.

      • mtnmarv

        tell me what great class he's had since he came home !!!!

    • John

      Well, Huggins team is showing improvement. This year is much better than last year and should improve much more next year. Dana's team is going down. I still think he will win at WVU with the level of recruits he has coming, but that's another story. Plus, Huggins is a proven Head Coach. Dana hasn't proven much yet.

    • Mike

      +1. Someone one asked Joe Paterno when will WV start beating Penn State. He said when they have better players. Huggins will win again when he has better players, and not recruits who leave the program, or do not qualify.

  • Big Larry

    For a minute we were in with a great chance. Then the game started.

    • Hop'sHip

      Don't know whether I should laugh or cry....... I CHOOSE TO LAUGH!

    • Mike

      Funny.

  • William

    "Sweatsuit" Bob 'One & Done' Huggins

    • graywv

      Sweatsuit William is back! Nothing to say of any interest, to WVU fans, we got it along time ago, you "hate" Huggins, so go and play with your little "herd" fans!

      • Dennis

        At least Marshall has won a tournament game. I am still waiting for WVU to win their first Big 12 tournament game. Maybe next year if Staton returns.

        • GoEers

          At least WVU has won an NCAA tournament game. I am still waiting for Marshall to win their first ever NCAA tournament game.

  • William

    (NIT) - Not Important Tournament

    • Alter E. Go

      W = Waste of human flesh
      I = Ignorant
      L = Lazy
      L = Loser
      I = Ignorant Squared
      A = Asshole
      M = Mindless

      • Martinsburg Resident

        That's funny!

    • Hop'sHip

      When do you stop piling on? Don't you have a walk-on substitute you could bring on to give us a break? We get it. We stunk. There are only so many ways you can say it, and I think you have exhausted them.

  • Anthony

    Glad I didn't stay up to watch. I hope Huggins don't actually believe this team belongs in the NCAA Tourney. We don't need to see them go out and get buried by 30 in the first round. They can go to the NIT win one and get a few extra practices and then get buried in the second round of that tournament.

  • Grant

    WVU just doesn't matchup well with Texas. Texas knows it, and most importantly, WVU's players know it. I think Texas was inside their heads before the ball was even tipped. I don't think there is a worse team for WVU to play in the country.

    • WVUFan

      I totally agree, Grant. Sometimes, there are bad matchups. I've even heard Huggs say this in the past, "sometimes it's all about matchups." But if they ever want to win a Big 12 Championship, they better figure out a way to overcome this bad matchup.

      • wvrefugee

        Well then, why didn't illustrious AD call the Big 12 and complain about that Texas was too good for us to play after a first round bye??? STUPID comments! Simply put, we were not prepared to play last night. I guess that's Texas' fault as well!

  • Hoffy

    This game may have defined WVU's season. What a kick in the gut.
    Maybe the NIT experience - if that happens - can salvage a glimmer of hope lost and provide confidence for the near future of this basketball team.
    Sad day to be a Mountaineer....
    *Sigh*