Facing An Uphill Battle

This situation is something West Virginia (16-10, 6-7) is very used to and, unfortunately, it’s something all teams never want to get used to. Trying to rebound from a loss.

For the past few weeks the Mountaineers have been struggling to do that. They did come away with a close victory at Providence, but it took them overtime to do that, and they’ve lost five of their last six games. That’s something WVU head coach Bob Huggins hasn’t done at WVU and this is the furthest Huggins has gone into Big East play with a record below .500.

This is new territory for WVU and the team faces a tough up hill battle. The Mountaineers only have two home games left and the roads games they have are in venues they haven’t had too much success at.

((Senior Truck Bryant after Saturday’s game))

“It’s rough. Things aren’t going to get any better unless you get wins,” said senior guard Truck Bryant after the Louisville game on Saturday. “We had a chance to win at home and now we have to go on the road and we have to win some road games. We have to.”

“I said it last time. We can sit here and cry about it and screw up and not do anything,” said an emotional Deniz Kilicli. “That’s the easy way out, but we can go play, win the rest of the games and we’ll have a chance.”

WVU has five regular season games left and will have to win at least three to almost guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament. West Virginia will play: at Pitt, at Notre Dame, vs. Marquette, vs. DePaul and at South Florida.

The Mountaineers lost to Pitt earlier this season in the Coliseum 72-66 and haven’t had too much success at the Peterson Event Center against the Panthers going 1-7 all-time in the venue. That’s certainly not good at all, but it’s a lot better than West Virginia has done in South Bend, Indiana. All-time against Notre Dame at the Joyce Center WVU is 1-11.

After Saturday’s loss the upperclassmen admitted they were frustrated with the current stretch they’re on, but they understand the freshmen are more frustrated than they are.

“I’m not the one that has to be down. I have to help the young guys get up,” said Bryant. “We just have to win games.”

Also on Saturday, emotions seemed to boil over for some of the players on the court. In first half against Louisville, junior forward Deniz Kilicli picked up his second foul of the game when he tried to work his way into the paint and quickly picked up his third personal foul and a technical when he tossed the basketball in the air in frustration. He took full blame for the loss after Saturday’s game and said that was one of the reasons why.

“You have to keep your emotions down,” said Kilicli. “That teaches me something too. I’ve never done that in my life before this. It’s just [I] got caught up in the moment and acted stupid.”

The Mountaineers’ emotions will be tested in this final five game stretch and if WVU can focus on its goal then it may earn an NCAA Tournament bid.

 




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