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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — The time has come to face reality.

West Virginia is probably not even to be considered, at this moment, a middle of the pack Big 12 basketball team.

As the Mountaineers ready for today's noon game at first-year coach Mark Ross's No. 18/19 Texas Tech Red Raiders that will be shown on ESPNU, they are in the midst of a two-game losing streak and have dropped three of their last five.

True the two most recent losses have been losses to Top 10 teams in Kansas and Baylor, the two best teams in the nation's best conference, which could be written off as an excuse, but it happens to be the conference the Mountaineers reside in.

Statistics of WVU's performance compared to other teams in the Big 12 tell a sad story.

West Virginia is 10th and last in the league in assists, assist/turnover margin, defensive rebounds per game, rebounding margin and field-goal percentage defense.

The Mountaineers are ninth and next to last in the Big 12 in scoring, scoring margin, 3-point shots made per game, rebounding percentage and defensive rebounding percentage.

These numbers seem to say that WVU doesn't rebound well, handle the ball well or shoot well, including in the one area it was thought to be at its strongest, 3-point shooting.

That shows the problem is more than just with the inside offense, which has been most glaring.

And going to Texas Tech is a tough place to fix problems, the Red Raiders being 11-0 at home right now and own victories over both Baylor and Kansas, the two teams that most recently beat WVU.

The time has come for things to come together for the Mountaineers or begin worrying about where all of this is leading come March.

It hasn't been a matter of playing hard. Instead, it's been a matter of playing well.

The only consistency they have had has been in being inconsistent.

At first, they were looking for a third scorer to join Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil, who were carrying the load. Huggins thought Jalen Bridges was the answer, and there have been times when he has filled that role.

Now Bridges is not a problem with the team. His all-around game — defense and rebounding particularly — have been strong, but there are nights when he fills the scoring void and other nights when he becomes the void.

With COVID-striking down high scorer Taz Sherman, who continues to try and gain his strength, stamina and weight back, the problems have multiplied.

Recently, Coach Bob Huggins has discovered a third scoring threat in guard Malik Curry, the fifth-year graduate transfer from Old Dominion who has averaged 19 points a game over the two losses to Kansas and Baylor.

"He's a great penetrator," Huggins said on Friday. "That was his claim to fame at Old Dominion before he got here. He penetrates and has a great touch with the ball. He finishes over bigger people, which most guys his size can't do."

But working him into the rotation is tricky, for Huggins has to have Sherman and McNeil as his 3-point shooters, Keedy Johnson as the point guard because of his defensive abilities, Bridges because of his versatility and potential and Gabe Osabuohien has to get a lot of playing time to feature his energy, rebounding and defense.

That's six guys with Curry and it doesn't allow for the big men — Dimon Carrigan and Pauly Paulicap — on a team that lacks rebounding strength anyway. You can't survive in the Big 12 if you unable to match up inside, as Kansas' David McCormack showed the Mountaineers two games back at Kansas.

Curry came with the reputation of being an offensive force, but it wasn't at this level, so Huggins has been feeling his way with him. Now he knows that his ability to lead Old Dominion in scoring and assists last year translates to the Big 12.

“I felt confident as soon as I got in the game,” Curry said after his Kansas performance. “It’s a big game, big stage. And, I never go into any game thinking I’m going to play good [or] thinking I’m going to play bad. I just want to go out there and provide for the team, and today I got it going, which was a great feeling.”

Curry has also provided WVU with something it hadn't had previously, big time free throw shooting. In Big 12 play he is shooting 96.2% from the line and has made his last 16 attempts.

All of that screams out for him to play more than the 23 minutes a game he is averaging in conference play, but WVU has to change its look to do that, which means either Keedy Johnson or one of the bigs isn't on the floor.

Huggins remains convinced that as the season moves on, his team will make its usual steps toward improvement and will be a tournament-ready team come March, but he also understands that he is going to have pull off some victories over ranked teams, including a couple on the road, to prove that point.

NOTES: Huggins will coach his 1,300th career game Saturday at Texas Tech ... In league games only, Jalen Bridges (1.000) and Malik Curry (96.2) ranked first and second in free throw percentage. Sean McNeil leads in 3-point FG% (54.5), Isaiah Cottrell leads in blocked shots (1.6) and Bridges leads in offensive rebounds. (4.2) ... West Virginia has made at least one 3-point field goal in 746 consecutive games ... Last season, Gabe Osabuohien led WVU with 171 deflections and 23 charges taken. This season he leads with 114 deflections, followed by Kedrian Johnson with 100 and Jalen Bridges 82, and 18 charges taken.