Mountaineers Shaking Underdog, Upset Mentality - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers Shaking Underdog, Upset Mentality

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MORGANTOWN -

Hollis Thompson walked off the court, untucked his jersey and asked his teammates how it was No. 9 Georgetown could have lost to the lowly, unranked Mountaineers.

It was a rhetorical question, not one posed with the hope of an answer in return, but he got one from WVU's Truck Bryant all the same.

"He can say how did they lose to us, but if he didn't realize, we beat them the last five times," says Bryant. "It wasn't just tonight – we beat them the last five times. I never lost to them."

The difference this season is that Thompson and his Hoyas were up against a roster mostly made up of players they had never really heard of. In previous years, there was Ebanks and Butler and Mazzulla, but now there are freshmen that haven't had a chance to get real attention yet.

A Top 10 team doesn't expect to fall to a roster with so many no-names, but that's exactly how WVU wants it to be.

"I hope they keep not taking us serious," says Kevin Jones, one of the big names remaining. "That's kind of an advantage for us and it just gives you extra motivation to just go out there and want to perform at a high level and we'll get our respect."

The Mountaineers took an undefeated Baylor team to overtime and could have easily pulled the upset, but didn't. Then they lose badly to Seton Hall a few games later before putting together two strong performances in the outings since.

Rather than change their mentality in the time since that blowout loss to the Pirates, Bryant says the team worked on getting back to what had been working prior to that. They didn't let one awful game shape them, instead acknowledging their poor play and moving on.

"We was just sluggish against Seton Hall, but these last two games, we came out on fire and I think we're starting to arrive as a team," says Bryant.

West Virginia has proven itself to be a team that plays up to the level of competition this season, a continued trend from recent years.

Taking down some of the nation's best competition is surely something the Mountaineers can hang their collective hat on, but they've proven that as high as they can get, they can easily drop right down to earth.

"This conference is very crazy," says freshman Jabarie Hinds. "Anybody can lose on any night to any given team in the Big East, but this win was very big for us and we needed it."

The makeup of the league is exactly why head coach Bob Huggins feels his team has been able to put together strong showings against top contenders – because it faces them so often. In 48 tries coaching his alma mater, Huggins and the Mountaineers have beaten ranked teams 20 times.

"In some leagues, you get one opportunity. In this league, you get an opportunity seemingly every night out. And the ones that aren't in the Top 25 probably ought to be," says Huggins.

He wouldn't say it, but one of those teams Huggins says is proving its case for a spot in the Top 25 is his own.

Bryant can look ahead just two days on the schedule to see another Top 10 team. The No. 8 UConn Huskies will welcome WVU Monday night and do their best not to suffer a similar fate as Georgetown did Saturday.

He's not so concerned about the big road tests and the highly ranked opponents, though. He just hopes they can be consistent regardless of the team on the other end of the court.

"Just [be] ready to play. That's the problem. We need to be ready to play against people that's not Top 25 or not Top 10," says Bryant. "We need to be ready to play every game and that's just something that we've got to get better at as a team."

If the Mountaineers can continue to put together showings like Saturday's and stay as far away from that Seton Hall game as possible, Georgetown's Thompson and other players in the league won't be so baffled by losing to that team in Morgantown.

Frankly, WVU isn't concerned about what anyone else thinks about it.

"It doesn't matter to me whether it's an upset or people think that's what we should do – I think a win is a win," says Jones. "As long as we go out there and keep on performing at a high level, I think we can almost beat any team in the country. I really believe that and I believe in my teammates."

His teammates. Those no-names who are steadily putting together a portfolio of film for the rest of the teams in the Big East to watch and take notes on so that the next time they meet, they'll remember the names.

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