WVU Starting to Fear For Its NCAA Tournament Chances - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Starting to Fear For Its NCAA Tournament Chances

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia University Head Coach Bob Huggins was a little worried at the beginning of the season that he assembled a more difficult schedule for his young team early in the year than he should have. The Mountaineers navigated that difficult schedule pretty well winning nine of their 12 non-conference games.

WVU opened Big East play winning six of its first eight games. Then they lost five of their next six, including Saturday's loss to Louisville.

What once looked like a sure bet for the NCAA tournament is now anything but.

"I would be lying if I said you don't feel a little bit of pressure, maybe a lot of pressure," Senior Forward Kevin Jones said. "I still have faith. That's all we can do is keep on fighting. We got to find a way to win some games."

WVU has five Big East games remaining. That stretch begins with a game at Pitt Thursday night followed by a visit to Notre Dame, home games against Marquette and DePaul and the regular season finale at South Florida.

Bob Huggins has told his team he feels they need to get 10 Big East wins in order to feel good about an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. That means the Mountaineers need to win four of their last five games before heading to the Big East tournament.

"I would be lying if I said nobody is panicking," Jones said. "Fear is good for us right now. Fear will hopefully make us play better and come together more as a team. If that's what it takes then fear could be a good thing."

"Fear is a good thing," Junior Forward Deniz Kilicli said. "It always is. Look at anything, even in wars people are scared for their lives. That's why they do whatever they can do, is give 200 percent, because they don't want to die. It's the same thing if you care that much."

West Virginia has played in the NCAA Tournament every season that Bob Huggins has been its head coach. That streak began in Huggins' first year at WVU in 2008. The two seniors on the team, Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant, don't want to see that streak end on their watch.

"Coach says we have to get to 10 wins in order to have a chance, so we have to find a way to get them," Jones said. "Games are winding down and we got to find a way."

One big difference between this team and Huggins' previous four teams at West Virginia is youth. There are only three players currently playing on this roster who have experience playing in the NCAA tournament. The freshmen do not yet have firsthand experience of what it takes to earn a spot in the tournament.

"They don't know what it means, so I don't think they are panicking," Kilicli said. "Nobody is panicking right now. That's one of the things that could help us. If you are panicking you should play a little bit better."

WVU returns to action Thursday at Pitt. West Virginia suffered a 72-66 loss to Pitt in Morgantown on January 30.

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