When we last left our suddenly surging Mountaineers, they had knocked off two straight quality opponents in Kansas State and (then) 21st ranked Oklahoma. Riding that confidence, they headed into what could be the most critical stretch of the season for West Virginia's suddenly legitimate NCAA tournament hopes: at Kansas, at home against Iowa State, and at Texas. Let's check on the Twitters and see how they fared.
It took Devin Williams 13 seconds to foul Joel Embiid. I had 15 in the pool.— Dave Hickman (@dphickman1) February 8, 2014
Embiid is going to eat our bigs alive— Leland Reed (@BigCheese100) February 8, 2014
Sometimes, you just can't get around matchup issues. It's a reality that we just don't have the type and depth of bigs that can compete with teams who have NBA size talent at Forward and Center. Now, that might change next season, but for now, it is what it is.
WVU is playing pretty well, but I wonder if it will have enough forwards to finish the game.— Tony Dobies (@DOBIEST) February 8, 2014
I'm sure that this is just a wild over exaggeration. Hyberbole is fun and stuff, I get it. It's not really possible for all of a teams forwards to foul out, is it?
Noreen just picked up 2 fouls with no time off the clock and then Wiggins dunks.— Dave Hickman (@dphickman1) February 8, 2014
*tosses laptop through wall, runs out of house screaming*
Jon Holton and Elijah Macon would make this a completely different game— Leland Reed (@BigCheese100) February 8, 2014hi
next season is gonna be so cool. next season is gonna be so cool. next season is gonna be so cool. next season is gonna be so cool. next season is gonna be so cool. next season is gonna be so cool. next season is gonna be so cool.
Eron Harris NBA Jam.gif— Randy Gyorko (@gyorkocfn) February 8, 2014
3RON continued his unreal hot streak that begun late against Oklahoma in Morgantown. This is fun.
However, not all is fun in the Phog...
Need a Terry Henderson sighting.— Randy Gyorko (@gyorkocfn) February 8, 2014
West Virginia did a great job weathering the initial storm/foul trouble only to melt down near the end of the half. Critical minutes now.— Patrick Southern (@patricksouthern) February 8, 2014
This was a disappointing return to our problems from earlier in the season. We've been much better at closing off halves in our recent run of competence, but broke down again against KU. You can it a result of an immensely talented Kansas squad, but it was still a very disappointing end to a half wherein we fought really hard against a top team.
I've....I've got nothing for this. Never seen anything like it.
West Virginia may not have an NCAA resume just yet, but the Mountaineers certainly look like an NCAA team. Pass the eye test. Easily.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 8, 2014
We've managed to get within two at this point. It's really nice to see the way that mainstream media has gotten on board with the improvement of this team. We may not make the tournament this year, but we're turning heads nonetheless. This will matter: we should be recognized next year in the pre-season polls. Not that it really matters, but it's nice to see a number by your name.
Terry Henderson has been awful today.— Tony Dobies (@DOBIEST) February 8, 2014
Yeah, it wasn't Terry's day.
He'll get his later, though.
A few really silly errors from WVU today, but all in all, I'm more impressed by this team than I have been at any other point this year.— Patrick Southern (@patricksouthern) February 8, 2014
PATRICK SOUTHERN POSITIVE TWEET ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA SPORTS ALERT
Rock Chalk Jayhawk chants have begun in Allen Fieldhouse. #WVU— Marc Basham (@marc_b) February 8, 2014
83-69. A disappointing score that doesn't adequately represent the level at which WVU competed at during this game. NBA talent ran away with this late after WVU got it to a four point game with around five minutes remaining. The Jayhawks, however, were just too much.
Related: Vegas knows.
While it was a disappointing day in the Phog, WVU still had a chance to make some serious headaway in their inexplicable quest to make the NCAA tournament. Iowa State came to the Coliseum, and the Mountaineers were ready.
/makes sure my pants are securely fastened before reliving this game.
Iowa State (2/12):
@BIrvin_WVU11 Thanks Bruce that's the plan! Need to see that RING when you come to Morgantown.— Bob Huggins (@CoachHuggs) February 10, 2014
Let's do this.
Strong start for Terry Henderson putback jam...and now 2 3s. WVU up 10-8, 3 minutes gone in the 1st half. Henderson with 8 pts.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) February 11, 2014
I felt we should run plays to Terry immediately against ISU to get him going after the terrible day in Lawrence. Huggs complied with my wishes and young Terrence delivered. It was back and forth early, but it was pretty much all fun after this.
A lot of things going right in the first half but #WVU allowing far too many offensive rebounds. Iowa State with 7 already.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) February 11, 2014
This was basically the one thing that didn't go WVU's way against the 'Clones. This could have been so much worse if ISU didn't have roughly seven trillion offensive boards.
Gary Browne clapping: confirmed— SmithFire13 (@SmithFire13) February 11, 2014
This is why we won.
Iowa State 0-6 from 3 to open the game.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) February 11, 2014
It really helps your bid to upset a top-15 team when they can't hit anything and you're a team of NBA Jam On Fire dot GIFs.
DeAndre Kane feeling the complete wraith of the #WVU student section not being able to heckle Pitt with the Backyard Brawl on hiatus.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) February 11, 2014
I don't do this often, but I'll give props to the WVU Student Section. They absolutely got into the head of DeAndre Kane. Completely threw a Big 12 PoY candidate off his game in a huge spot.
Wow DeAndre Kane might just be rattled, just airmailed a free throw!— Doug Walp (@dougWalp) February 11, 2014
MY NAME IS ERON HARRIS AND I GET BUCKETS
(Good Guys 33-18 at this point. This is fun.)
#WVU up 52-33 on Iowa State at halftime. Mountaineers dominating.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) February 11, 2014
This. Is. Awesome.
It's amazing to see how fun this team has gotten. Just a complete 180. They may not make the tournament, but they've restored faith in this program when many had started to lose it.
Be careful. Iowa State is good at comebacks.— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxCoachHolgs) February 11, 2014
/PTSD sets in
(Thank god this didn't happen.)
Juwan Staten missed a dunk, but DeAndre Kane one ups him by standing out of bounds. #WVU catches a break there.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) February 11, 2014
That kind of night.
Juwan somehow misses a two-handed, breakaway dunk and we immediately get the ball back because of some sort of hilarity. Poor DeAndre Kane.
(Author's Note: I do not care about DeAndre Kane's feelings.)
/awaits letter from ISU student newspaper
With 12 min to go, WV fans busting out the "over-rated" chant for ISU, somewhere @davidubben shakes his head— Michael Kogler (@KCsportsaholic) February 11, 2014
I criticized Huggs early this season. Gotta praise him now. This team has improved a TON from December to today. Mark of great coaching.— Patrick Southern (@patricksouthern) February 11, 2014
That December-January stretch of near misses may end up killing this team, but it was always going to be a process to get us back where we needed to be. Even then, though, you could tell this team was significantly more willing to be actually coached by our Hall of Famer. They played as a team and competed. They never quite got there early on, but once they did, they continued to build and build on that foundation.
Huggs said he would fix it. He did.
Dustin Hogue just landed the best dropkick you'll see tonight, and Monday Night Raw is on.— Patrick Vint (@HS_BHGP) February 11, 2014
I won't rattle on about this, it's been done to death.
In the end, they got it right. The problem is somehow missing the kick that set off this series of events that lead to Eron's (correct) ejection.
ONE HUNDRED BASKETBALL POINTS— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) February 11, 2014
Yeah, this was a whole lot of fun.
Tyrone Hughes scored on Iowa State.
I claimed last time that if the 'Eers were to go 1-1 against KU and Iowa State, they'd make the tournament. I'm going to stay firm behind my prediction. I think they will. 18/19 is the magic number area, in my opinion and we're now at 15. This team is capable of doing that. I never thought I'd say it, but I really believe it.
Next up was a trip to Texas against the Longhorns, and a shot to really solidify our tournament stock.
This went poorly.
Obligatory #America. I'll be honest: I didn't watch this game because LOL, Texas.
I am not alone.
#WVU on the board first with a Henderson jumper. 2-0.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) February 16, 2014
(There weren't many.)
Eron Harris being tended to during that break. Had right shoe off and appeared to be in some pain.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) February 16, 2014
Harris checking in at the scorer's table.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) February 16, 2014
Seriously, the only way this could have been worse is if we had lost Eron for an extended period of time. Bullet, dodged.
WVU having a tough time doing anything offensively inside the 3-point line. Texas containing Staten well early on.— Tony Dobies (@DOBIEST) February 16, 2014
This was the exact same game as last time. Completely. Texas is a match-up nightmare for this year's West Virginia.
I'm not going to rehash this much and just try to make a point at the end, but carry on with me here for a little bit.
All in all considering those numbers alone, #WVU is very fortunate to be ONLY trailing 40-29.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) February 16, 2014
It was one of those types of games.
I hate those types of games.
THE STREAM HAS BEEN DISABLED!!! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!— Jim Ashley (@JimAshley18) February 16, 2014
YOU HAVE ANGERED BEVO, PUNY MORTALS
ONLY TRUE BELIEVERS MAY GAZE INTO THE TEMPLE OF LONGHORN NETWORK.
Eron Harris and Juwan Staten are a combined 5-for-20 shooting, Dibo 0-for-3, Williams 1-for-5. Texas leads #WVU 57-43— Dave Hickman (@dphickman1) February 16, 2014
Sounds pretty much on point.
There's really not much to say about this game. WVU dies. Just like last time. A 46-14 advantage in points in the paint for the Longhorns. It'll sound like a broken record, but it's a match-up nightmare. More than any other I've seen with the Mountaineers this season.
That being said, I'm going to get to the point I alluded to earlier: this is not the end of the world by any means. Losing to Texas is not going to kill our tournament hopes by any mean. What it does do, however, is set the stage for what we absolutely have to do.
(1) They've gotta beat TCU and Baylor. These are games that we absolutely cannot lose if we're going to make the Dance. That gives us 17 wins and a sweep over a competing bubble squad.
(2) They've gotta steal (at least) one from Kansas, Iowa State, and Oklahoma. KU and ISU are the big targets but a sweep of OU would be huge for our resume as well. One of these gets us to 18 which, honestly, could be the magic number. I'm an optimist.
(3) At this point, while we could possible sneak in with 18 wins, a win or (preferably) two in the Big 12 tournament would be the clincher. To this point - WE ABSOLUTELY CANNOT DRAW TEXAS. I'm more confident in this team's ability to beat Kansas on a (sorta) neutral court than I am that we can beat Texas.
So, there it is. I really think this team has the ability to pull it off. They're confident (despite this game), they're coachable, and they're talented. We've got this guys.
I'll be back on Saturday.
Until then, keep Tweeting and Let's Go Mountaineers!