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WVU Must Find Good in Win, Move On

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia can rest easy knowing it does not field the worst team in the Big 12.

That distinction goes to Texas Christian University.

When the two struggling men's basketball teams met at the Coliseum Wednesday, there was one combined conference win on the court.

The Mountaineers handled the Horned Frogs and held off any idea the visitors had of a late comeback, but nothing about beating a team that was 9-9 and winless in the conference heading into the night would result in a jovial atmosphere when all was said and done.

"I guess after all these years, I have learned to not get mad when you win one, but I am not very happy," head coach Bob Huggins said after the 71-50 finish.

At times in the second half, as TCU cut its deficit from 21 to 11 points, Huggins turned to his bench and began ripping into his players, likely fearing that the same poor 20 minutes that he'd seen so many times before this season was unfolding again.

He made sure his players were aware that this team, which was shooting less than 30 percent in the first half, was climbing over 60 at that point in the second. The activity he saw from his defenders before they went into the locker room was nothing like what was on display once they reemerged.

So, yes, it was a win. Yes, the Mountaineers pulled their record back even and stopped a three-game losing streak. But, no, they are not satisfied. No, they are not happy.

"Right now, to be honest, I can't even get happy because we're 9-9," WVU forward Deniz Kilicli said. "This doesn't do anything to us. I'm not happy with the season, but it's all our fault, so the mindset is right now – win or lose – it really doesn't change how we look at stuff."

Kilicli played 22 minutes and finished with 11 points and eight boards, his most productive game since Dec. 5 against Marshall.

Freshman Eron Harris led all scorers with 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting and again was perhaps the team's most active player.

There were signs of what WVU has been trying to put together all season, but signs against a bottom feeder only teach so much. The real challenge is to take what was gained in this one and translate it to a road game against Oklahoma State and a Big Monday home meeting with Kansas in the next two contests.

"That's, I think, the biggest part of it. This game gives us confidence and I don't know what else it gives us," said Kilicli. "We won, a win is a win, so we're 9-9. We'll see what happens."

Confidence from this win does not mean that it goes to their heads and they start thinking they're fielding a special team. They know from the nine losses, and even some of the wins, that this isn't so cut and dry. The confidence they need is simply to have enough to remind them that they have the ability to win.

It's a reminder of what it feels like to walk off the court with a conference victory, something WVU hadn't accomplished yet this season.

"We played really hard and I thought we did things defensively that we have done for a really long time in the first half," Huggins said. "In the second half, we stopped guarding, which has been kind of what we do. We scored a lot of points off our defense in the first half and scored very little off our defense in the second half."

It's hard to envision Huggins remaining calm through the full 40 minutes and not taking a few opportunities to really dig into his bench or the players who line up before him during a timeout. It's just in his nature.

But a win – that helps.

There will be no delusions about what this one means. It is simply No. 9 overall and No. 2 in the conference. Just as they did after losses, it is time for the Mountaineers to move on.

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