Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

Rest and reset: WVU must rebound quickly to get ready for postseason play

MORGANTOWN — WVU has been down this road before, dusting themselves off and answering the bell after getting knocked down.

Such is life in the Big 12. Big moments can’t be celebrated for long. Heartbreaking defeats must be overcome to survive.

The Mountaineers are down again following their 78-61 loss Thursday to No. 3 Kansas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.


Whether or not a third loss to the Jayhawks this season will make a difference next week when WVU is expected to play in the NCAA tournament, well, the players were quick to dust themselves off once more.

“Not at all,” was the quick response given by WVU guard Erik Stevenson.

“I mean, it’s the No. 1 team in the country, to be honest with you,” added WVU guard Joe Toussaint. “Doesn’t really affect confidence.”

With that, the Mountaineers are ready to move on.

What they left behind was 20 games in the top conference in the country, with all 10 Big 12 teams finishing in the top 70 in the country in the NCAA’s NET rankings.

No other league in the country can make a similar boast.

What WVU is heading toward is the toughest and most dramatic tournament in the country.

The NCAA selection show begins at 6 p.m. Sunday (CBS) and the Mountaineers — ranked No. 24 in the NET — are projected as either a No. 9 or 10 seed. It will be the school’s 31st all-time appearance.

Between now and then, “Just rest your bodies, rest your minds,” Stevenson said. “I’m proud of our team. We dug ourselves out of a huge hole in this league to start, and we’re going to get our name called on Sunday. Just a matter of when, not where, who we play. So, we’ve got to reset our minds. It’s a one-game season at this point.”

The good news for WVU is whoever its next opponent will be, it won’t be anyone from the Big 12.

“I think anybody in our league could make a run,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “A lot of it depends on match-ups.”

As a No. 9 or 10 seed, though, that opponent will likely come from another Power Five Conference or the Big East, possibly one ranked in the AP Top 25 or with top 25 credentials.

In that situation, WVU can’t afford another lackluster performance like the one it had against Kansas, especially on the defensive end.

Kansas made 20 of 30 shots from the floor in the second half and shot 52.4% for the game. It was the eighth time this season an opponent shot better than 50% against the Mountaineers.

As for Huggins’ advice to his players about taking their next step, he simply said it was time to move on.

“I would hope that next week — I guess next week or whenever it is that we get in the NCAA tournament — that we forget about this,” Huggins said. “This wasn’t the team that I had all year. I mean, we came out with absolutely no enthusiasm, no pep in our step.”

TWEET @bigjax3211