Minutes after West Virginia University’s men’s basketball team fell to Texas in Austin, Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins pulled it out.
That three-letter word.
That word he rarely uses, but has done so effectively over recent years.
“We’re going to try and fix some things,” he said. “We’re going to try. We’re going to try and fix some things.”
Fix. When he’s fixated on a task, Huggins goes there. He most famously did so after his 2012-13 team imploded and went 13-19. Said he was going to fix it. And he did.
Now, of course, things aren’t so bleak. The Mountaineers are the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Big 12 tournament and play sixth-seeded Baylor at 9 p.m. Thursday. They are assuredly an NCAA tournament team. Yet the Mountaineer coach probably does want to tweak. In the 87-79 loss to a very short-handed Longhorns team, WVU turned UT over 10 times in the first half, but only four times afterward.
Also, while one must give Texas credit for nailing 11 of 19 3-point attempts, the Longhorns did so many times with much open space. The hosts also outrebounded West Virginia 37-32.
“I wish we would have made a shot once in a while and guarded somebody,” Huggins said. “Maybe try to get a rebound. I found out if you don’t try, very rarely do you get one.”
Mountaineer players Lamont West and Jevon Carter had little to say after the game. It was understandable since UT was without ex-five star guard Andrew Jones, guard Eric Davis and 6-11 standout Mo Bamba and still won 87-79 in overtime.
In an attempt to cover, Longhorn guards Kerwin “Snoop” Roach and Matt Coleman both played 43 minutes and both scored 22 points.
“We focused on playing bigger than Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles,” Coleman said. “We made plays on the ball and off the ball.”
“They’re good players,” West said. “They did what they were supposed to do and we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”
Leading to Huggins’ anger.
“I have backed off this team practice-wise maybe more than any team I’ve coached,” said the Mountaineer coach. “It’s probably a terrible mistake. You hear so much about teams having to have legs. Hell, we can’t shoot anyway, so if they don’t have legs what difference does it make?”
He went back to UT’s rebounding edge.
“We can’t rebound,” Huggins said. “We didn’t even try.”
A Texas reporter asked the coach if he’d like another crack at the Longhorns in the Big 12 tournament.
“I don’t really care who we see,” he said. “Everybody’s good.”
Carter said he’s now looking forward.
“Our goal is to win the next game, whenever that is against whoever that is,” he said. “Just move on from here.”
And the Mountaineers’ frame of mind?
“I feel good,” Carter said. “I feel like when we come to play we can beat anybody. We just have to come ready to play every game. We can’t take any games off.”
The winner of the WVU-Baylor game will play either Texas Tech or the winner of the Texas-Iowa State game at 9 p.m. Friday.