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

  • JImBob

    Coaching, Coaching!! Our boys weren't prepared for the Texas Game. A good coach would have prepared a good game plan. We sure didn't have one. Time to get rid of Booby Hugs. I've been a WVU basketball fan for over 60 years and this had to be one of the most embarassing losses ever.

  • El Supremo

    When is enough, enough? How many times can WVU be embarrassed on the hardwood before some fans realize that someone is NOT the same coach he was 10 years ago. What we have here is another Gale Catlett.

    If you wanted a top coach that was going to recruit well and WIN championships year after year, where would you rate Mr. Huggins in this group?

    1. Mike Krzyewski
    2. Jim Boeheim
    3. Rick Pitino
    4. Tom Izzo
    5. John Beilein
    6. John Calipari
    7. Roy Williams
    8. Thad Motta
    9. Jay Wright
    10. Brad Stevens
    11. Bill Self
    12. Sean Miller
    13. Mike Cronin
    14. Billy Donavan

    You answer will indicate your knowledge of college basketball as well as if you are a biased fan.

    • Aaron

      First off, you can throw John Calapari out. He's put two programs on probation so he's a proven cheater. If anyone thinks he's doing anything different at KY, let me tell you about this bridge I have for sale.

      Of the rest, John Beilein, Thad Motta, Jay Wright, Brad Stevens, Sean Miller and Mick (not Mike) Cronin (a Huggins protege) have never won championships.

      Of the rest, Coack K and Jim Boeheim are the best. The thing is, both coach in much the same manner Coach Huggins does. If you watch either of these guys, no one berates and intimidates officials more than these two do. Tom Izzo is the same style of coach.

      Rick Pitino is a great coach but I think he has bigger character issues then many claim Huggins does.

      Billy the Kid has been successful and will likely win another championship again this year. Roy Williams, for all his notoriety, recruits great players that underachieve. That was his rap at Kansas and despite his 2 championships at NC, has followed him to Chapel Hill.

      So what's your point. If you're saying Huggins doesn't belong in this crowd, I disagree with you, which is irrelevant. If you polled the group though, they would agree with me, not you.

  • pghmountaineer

    Just finished watching Iowa State beat Kansas.
    That coach from Iowa State can really coach.

  • Clair

    Well time to look for next year. With the two bigs sitting out we should have the team to watch in the big-12---WRONG.

  • Jeff Riggs

    If you have watched basketball long enough you will know you have good days and bad days. We had a horrible day and the Texas coach had us figured out anyway. So we were doomed to lose.I think we still Will go deep into the nit and pray we can get better for next year

  • Independent View

    At least the girls basketball team knows how to win!
    Take the men's BB players to their practice sessions, maybe pick up some much-needed pointers.

  • El Supremo

    They have NOT done enough to warrant an
    invitation to the

    Nobody Interested Tournament

  • pghmountaineer

    DISAPPOINTING!
    DISCOURAGING!
    DISGUSTING!
    That's all I'm going to say about that.

    Put your enthusiasm behind the Lady EERS. Now there's a coach who's eraning his paycheck and a team with heart and grit.
    They make WVU proud.

    And now for the next fiasco, football season!

  • mad hatter

    it's baffling and frustrating to me, how we coach. one game huggs is coaching very well and the next , well not so good.
    Selection Monday will come and we will be invited. Hope we play some little people's team so we can shove some people around .
    as a fan ,this team can play lights out one game and the next lights out.
    Either you're a fan al lthe time or not a fan, don't chose bad games to be a non fan.Pick on someone your size.

  • rj

    Despite the criticism from some on this blog, I have said most year long in my opinion this is a mediocre basketball team. Texas has a huge budget for athletics and it is hard to beat that power of money. Someone said that the NIT is titled not important tournament, if they select WV we need to consider it a blessing to go. Better than nothing pal.The Big 12 is an excellent conference, however, it is too far for our fan base, thank goodness our band went and made noise. If it wasn't for the band you wouldn't hardly know if we had fans. Hats off to that great sounding band as they played the WV Fight Song!!!

  • John S. Shackelford

    Bad match up to begin with. This teams offense was limited to two players. I think it is young and if Huggins can get some bigs with hops it might workout next year. WVU has to play with more confidence. They have a little rabbit in them. When things are not going their way they just disappear. Lack confidence in their shooting. Looked scared last night.

  • Red Dwarf

    The Mountain East conference will be well represented in the region and nationally for both mens and womens teams, but since Metronews continues to ignore West Virginia's small colleges, very few people will ever know.

  • jay zoom

    (Mitch) any where but the big 12. and we will still probably come up losers. THANKS OLLIE

  • Joseph E Keener

    WVU made a huge mistake coming to the Big 12. They will receive more money, but pride and prestige will be in short supply. Look at Texas basketball we beat them in 2013 and they regrouped and look how young they are and will be a force for many years. Kids who grow up in Texas have so many Big 12 teams to pick from that family can come to see them play. WVU picks up kids from the Northeast, but schools like Syracuse, Duke, and Connecticut get the top tear picks in basketball. I have lived in Texas for 34 years and the talent pool is huge. WVU may have one good year out of ten, but being a team to fear in the Big 12 will be rare and at the same time a disappointment to our fan base.

  • Dave

    Allan Taylor, Nice piece you wrote for Big Larry, William, Jay Zoom and the rest of the green fans. I guess you get the last laugh against WVU. What a bunch of puppets. Metro News. The voice of West Virginia. I guess it keeps food on the table, huh Allan?

    • Hop'sHip

      I'm a diehard Mountaineer fan and I found no problem with Allan's coverage of this game. Just what did you find objectionable? He's a journalist, and a pretty good one. it's not his job to put lipstick on a pig.