Wins over #15 Virginia Cavaliers and Pitt Panthers have vaulted the West Virginia Mountaineers from #18 all the way up to #11. The Mountaineers have shown great resiliency following their opening game, lopsided loss to then #25 Texas A&M Aggies in Germany. Since that loss the Mountaineers have rattled off 9 straight wins and the Aggies have proven to be no fluke, rising to #8 in the polls.
For the Mountaineers, the team seems to have found a bit of identity that was forged in part when the Mountaineers erased a 14-point deficit against the Missouri Tigers in the final 8 minutes of the AdvoCare Invitational. Bob Huggins, who has defined his tenure in the Big 12 with #PressVirginia has been reluctant to the use the press this year, in part because of inexperience and in part due to the current rules. Huggins, with his team down in the AdvoCare Finals told his team "Let's just go out and do what we do. Let's go out and play as hard as we possibly can and let the chips fall where they may." The ‘Eers went back to the press and in doing so found their identity again.
This past week has showcased the both the ying and the yang of this team. In playing Virginia, Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles knocked down 12 of 14 free throws while playing 40 and 32 minutes respectively. Against the Pitt Panthers, the Mountaineers only attempted 9 free throws total, compared to the Panthers 31, yet the team took the Panthers best comeback attempt and continually hit shots that kept the Panthers from ultimately gaining the lead.
The team will play Wheeling Jesuit in an exhibition match this Saturday before returning to non-conference play against Coppin State and Fordham. The Mountaineers will open Big 12 play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on the road in Stillwater on December 29th.