The Mountaineers took down Baylor 66-64 in Waco, Texas on Tuesday night. The Bears had lost their last four games and five out of its last six heading into the contest and were sitting in ninth place in the Big 12 Conference.
Yet, WVU was still a six-point underdog.
OK, so it was ugly. West Virginia needed a layup from point guard Juwan Staten with 3.1 seconds to go. A 3-pointer banked into the hoop at the buzzer for Baylor, but a review showed it wasn't released in time. WVU won despite blowing a late lead. It doesn’t really matter, though, because a win's a win, especially for this team on the road, where it hasn't been very successful or competitive against superior foes.
Baylor came into the contest with the No. 52 RPI in the country, so it’s a good win. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, because they probably don't follow West Virginia basketball if they say that.
Baylor started the season 12-1 including a win over then-No. 3 Kentucky. The Bears are talented, athletic and long. They cause matchup problems for a lot of opponents. They showed in small doses on Tuesday that they could be trouble. It just wasn’t their night.
And finally – FINALLY – West Virginia had its night and knocked off a decent Big 12 team for really the first time.
West Virginia needs to use this as a springboard to the future. A victory like this should add some confidence to a team that really needs it during this stretch of tough games.
Realistically, the Mountaineers have yet to play a complete game … or anything resembling one. I guess the best game came against Oklahoma State at home in a losing effort. Improvement has to be made and is being made each game from the looks of it. That’s all you can ask for from a young team trying to navigate the most underrated league in the country.
WVU still plays down to its opponent. There’s no doubt that on Tuesday night the Mountaineers could’ve won by double digits. It took a lefty reverse layup to do it, though. That needs to change, and it should with time.
Now, the Mountaineers’ loss at home to Texas doesn’t look as bad as it did when it happened. You can deal with defeats at Kansas State and Oklahoma State, too. This win was crucial to the future of this season. Don't call it a make or break, though. There are too many good games left for that.
West Virginia needed one of these wins to get something going. WVU head coach Bob Huggins has admitted that, especially lately.
Now, it has the win it wanted.
The Mountaineers come back home for Saturday’s game against Kansas State and then faces Oklahoma next week. These are games WVU could and probably should win.
Let’s see if the run Huggins, his team and many fans think is coming actually does. This program and this athletic department need it. Even the state needs a bit of good to come its way.
For those of you who haven’t given up on West Virginia yet, you might be in for some fun down the stretch of the 2013-14 season. Who knows, tonight could be the night we all remember as the one where it all started to click.