By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
West Virginia’s basketball coach Bob Huggins had just suffered another difficult defeat, losing 73-72 to No. 11 Oklahoma State on Saturday night, and was trying to put the feeling into words.
“The two greatest emotions are winning and losing … and I don’t like this emotion,” he said.
He had one day to get the taste out of his mouth before going at it again, Texas coming to the Coliseum for a 7 p.m. game tonight.
It will be carried on ESPNU.
If history can be your guide, this figures to be another nail-bitter, with a victory being one to celebrate or a loss being another one that will haunt the loser for some time.
The teams have played five times, West Virginia winning three of them.
All have been memorable.
All five games have been decided by four points or fewer, including one overtime game.
The cumulative score in the series is 343-340 in favor of WVU.
Last year WVU won in overtime, 57-53. It was the widest margin of victory in the series.
The signature game, however, came in the 2006 Sweet 16 in Atlanta. Kevin Pittsnogle had just hit what seemed to be a game-tying 3 in the final 10 seconds, only to have Texas’ Kenton Paulino throw in a prayer of a 3-point shot at the buzzer to score a 74-71 victory for the Longhorns.
This doesn’t figure to be much different.
Texas comes in at 12-4, 1-2 in the Big 12 and desperate for a victory, just as WVU is at 10-6 and 2-1 in the conference. Texas carries the momentum of a hard-fought 67-64 win over Texas Tech, while WVU tries to recoup from its loss to Oklahoma State on a 3-point shot by Markel Brown, somewhat reminiscent of Paulino’s NCAA winner.
It was another one of those close losses that have been all too plentiful for WVU this season.
“I still think about these losses, but we have to get it out of our heads and move on to Texas. We have big games coming up,” said Terry Henderson. “People have seen us win a couple of close games, like Marshall. We have to do it down the stretch and stop making mental mistakes.”
The tough losses are just part of it.
“You can’t change the result,” said point guard Juwan Staten. “Ultimately, it’s a game and that’s something we all understand. You have your good nights and your bad nights. You just want to be consistent. If we keep plugging at it and do everything we need to do, do everything the coaches ask us to do, we’ll stop the bleeding.
“We don’t worry about the outcome. We do everything we need to do. If we take care of us, that should take care of the game.”
WVU has a lot of things working right at present. Staten has established himself as a star at the point, and Henderson has come on and become consistent-scoring while beginning to add the other parts of his game that may carry him far.
Freshman Devin Williams has become a quality rebounder, although he believes he should be getting 20 or more and may reach the point where he reaches that goal.
“If he’s going to do it, he might as well get started instead of waiting,” joked Huggins.
Huggins needs to get Eron Harris back on the beam shooting the ball to get everything going.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.