Sean McNeil

WVU guard Sean McNeil drives down the court in the Nov. 9 game against Oakland.

MORGANTOWN — After the 31-23 victory over Texas on Saturday, West Virginia Coach Neal Brown went out of his way to compliment the 45,000 fans who showed up for the game to honor the seniors and to root on a team that has suffered through a difficult season. Brown said the turnout was exceptional, considering that the dorms are closed this week for Thanksgiving yet the students turned out en masse for the game before leaving town.

“The thing that’s overlooked is we don’t have school next week,” Brown said. “I really thank the students for showing up and participating. They really were a factor in the game. The atmosphere matters. When they show up and are loud at the end of the game it is a factor.”

It’s also a factor in something else — recruiting.

And while that was going extremely well early, two top prospects for 2022 withdrew their commitments this week — running back Justin Williams and wide receiver Kevin Thomas. The defections came within an hour of each other.

“We had a ton of recruits here. We probably had 20-plus recruits who had offers who were here.”

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This may make you laugh, knowing Kansas’ history, but needing to beat them to finish the regular season at .500 and qualify for a bowl invitation is no gimme this season.

I know.

When I was in college at Missouri, I think it was right after they gained statehood, the Tigers went into the final game of the season No. 1 in the country and needed to beat a Kansas team at home to finish an unbeaten regular season.

Well, you know what’s coming, KU upset the Tigers in the final game, keeping Mizzou from a national championship.

Of course, it wasn’t long after that three of the top Jayhawk players were declared ineligible and the victory was taken from Kansas. That, of course, just shows that things never really do change, do they?

Anyway, this is no gimme. Kansas almost beat Oklahoma, as did WVU, and beat Texas, as did WVU ... meaning they are like opponents.

WVU knows this.

“Kansas is a different team,” senior middle linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said after the Texas game. “They can come out and play like the typical Kansas team we usually see or they can play like last week against Texas or a couple of weeks ago against Oklahoma.”

WVU goes into the game knowing it has to win it and that the Jayhawks have talent and won’t give it to them.

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You probably didn’t put it together, but it was there for all to see. As giddy a moment for WVU basketball fans it was to come back to beat Clemson, the Mountaineers lost a less important game, coming up on the short end of a 70-66 score.

See, the Orange Bowl team that was honored at the football game against Texas beat Clemson, 70-33, in a remarkable game for the nation to watch a decade earlier while all the men’s basketball team could score against Clemson was 66 points.

Ain’t often when you see a football team scoring more points than a basketball team.

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Speaking of the basketball game against Clemson, the Tigers got caught with their hand in the cookie jar late when they needed a turnover on an inbounds play and really turned up the pressure on WVU, making it tough to get the ball in bounds.

Really tough.

Clemson had six men on the court. The officials — and West Virginia’s own Teddy Valentine, who was very subdued during the game, was among them — spotted the sixth man, called a technical on Clemson and Sean McNeil made the two free throws to help clinch the outcome.

TV folks tried to adlib it away as a miscommunication on substitutions.

I wonder.

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If I never again hear Debbie Antonelli do commentary on a basketball game, it will be too soon.

Too technical, too smug, too often letting us know what she would do in that situation.

Yeah, that’s what I want is to hear two veteran coaches, one bound for the Hall of Fame, being second- [or even first-] guessed by someone who surely would be coaching if she knew that much.

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Speaking of color commentators, wishing nothing but the best, to Dick Vitale as he fights cancer. Despite going through chemo, he’s still doing his schtick on the tube.

Jimmy V would be proud of him.

Follow @bhertzel on Twitter

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