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No Moral Victories for WVU Basketball Team

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LAS VEGAS -

There are a number of positives that can be taken away from the manner in which the Mountaineers finished out their trip to Las Vegas.

To have a late three-point lead on the No. 7 team in the nation and come so close to giving Baylor its first loss of the season is something to reflect proudly on. But knowing what could have been done differently to turn that close loss into a win will not sit well with Bob Huggins and crew as they head back to Morgantown.

"There are no moral victories," says WVU senior Kevin Jones. "We definitely wanted to win, we had a chance to win and I felt like we were the better team, but they had what it took to win."

Jones showed throughout the game that he had what it took to lead his team to a win. In a matchup that featured two quality Joneses, WVU's version held the advantage over Baylor's Perry Jones III.

Despite proving himself again on a national stage as one of the top talents in the country, Jones would trade his own personal accomplishments for a 10-2 record at this point in the season.

His mindset of not allowing the team to feel content with a loss, regardless of opponent, is something Huggins feels should always be the case at his alma mater.

"What do you get out of losing? I get nothing out of losing. Nothing. Not a thing," says Huggins. "We had a chance to win and we had a chance to put ourselves in really good shape and we didn't. If West Virginia ever was happy with moral victories, we're way past that."

A win would have solidified a spot in the top 25 for WVU and one may still be in the future, but it certainly could have been a statement victory with national television coverage.

It proved to many who are unfamiliar with the Mountaineers just what they can be capable of, but that is something that didn't need to be proven to the players in the locker room.

"I never doubted that at all, but we also have to put away top competition like that when we play people like that because they are so talented, so once we go them down, we have to try to keep them down," says Jones.

What continues to work against West Virginia is its youth. While Jones strings together impressive performances just about every night, not a single other Mountaineer does the same.

There have been signs from the freshmen point guards that each one is able to carry the load, but they've been so up and down at times that you never know which version you're going to get. The same goes for Aaron Brown at the small forward position.

Truck Bryant was named the Big East Player of the Week after scoring 25 and 27 earlier in the month and has since cooled off to the point where he shot just 4-of-15 from the field Friday.

His knowledge of what Huggins wants on the court is what keeps him there when the head coach would have yanked any other player for similar efforts.

What the Mountaineers can take from all this is that they still have yet to put it all together. They're just 12 games into a 31-game schedule and are playing with quality opponents.

In nearly every game they've played, though, there are stretches where you're left scratching your head at what it is they're trying to accomplish. It's clear in listening to Huggins that he's one of those scratching his head as he watches the action on the court.

If he can get the young players to gain and better understanding of what he's looking for and get his veterans outside of Jones to play with a consistency not yet seen in 2011, close losses to top teams will turn to wins.

Until then, each loss is going to sting just as much as the last, and no moral victories will come from them.

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