Justin Jackson, Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

COLUMN: Mountaineers’ mistakes pile up in very bad ways

They are but a tick of the clock, mere small moments that you miss with a blink of an eye or by looking the other way in a 40-minute basketball game.

It does not take long for one bad moment to pile onto another, and then another and so on, until the point where all they simply outweigh any positives.

That is the best way I can sum up this WVU men’s basketball season that is now all but over following No. 7 Texas’ 69-61 victory on Saturday at the Coliseum.

If you’re holding out hope for some magical turnaround, please don’t hold your breath.

The bad part of it all is WVU (11-8, 1-6 Big 12) isn’t a bad basketball team.

It would probably be a 10-point favorite against last season’s team that finished last in the Big 12 with a 4-14 record.

This WVU team competes and rebounds the ball better than last season and shoots the ball way better than last season, too.

Sadly, when it’s all said and done, there may not be that much improvement on the overall record.

In truth, the Mountaineers are just really bad in the wrong moments this season.

Like coming out of a timeout on a crucial possession. It’s either the bad 3-point attempt from Erik Stevenson a few games ago against Oklahoma, or Tre Mitchell misjudging the length of the pass and getting the ball taken away from him with 1:59 remaining on Saturday against the Longhorns.

“I didn’t hold my guy off, that’s on me,” Mitchell said. “The ball was thrown over the top and there was a jump ball. I thought the pass was going to be a little bit farther, but it was a misread by me.”

A score there could have cut the lead down to two points, but instead Texas guard Marcus Carr made two free throws at the other end for a 67-61 lead.

There were big moments, like WVU guard Kedrian Johnson going for 22 points, but the small moments piled up on him, too. He also had six turnovers and just one assist.

The small miscues piled up like crashes during a bad day at a NASCAR track.

WVU had 20 turnovers, most of them were really bad. Remember when WVU head coach Bob Huggins had proclaimed the turnover issues were fixed, well, not exactly.

WVU was a decent 13 of 18 from the foul line, but when Texas got hit with a technical foul with 7:50 remaining in the game, Johnson stepped up and missed both free throws.

WVU trailed by two points at the time.

There are bigger issues, too, to be sure.

“There’s issues I’m not at liberty to talk about,” is how Huggins began his postgame press conference.

That’s O.K., we’ll talk about them.

Stevenson hasn’t been the same player ever since his two technical fouls that led to a public apology back at the beginning of the Big 12 season.

By the end of the Texas game, Huggins appeared to have seen enough and went with sophomore Seth Wilson down the stretch rather than the fifth-year senior.

Emmitt Matthews Jr., another fifth-year senior, also took a seat in the final minutes after struggling with his shot — he finished 1 of 6 for four points.

Matthews is as knowledgeable about Huggins’ system as they come, but his offensive sparks have been up and down with little consistency.

WVU’s top scorers are far from its best defenders, but it’s hard to keep them out, because the depth behind them is a step behind.

And if none of this has been fixed heading into February, it’s really hard to see how it’s going to be fixed by March.

Much of it is left over from last season, and even with a bunch of new guys on the roster, it still hasn’t been fixed.

Yes, the schedule says this season is far from over, but going by the body language against Texas, and then after the game, the Mountaineers may just be playing out the cycle at this moment.

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