Mountaineers Welcome Clean Slate in Big 12 Tourney - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers Welcome Clean Slate in Big 12 Tourney

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MORGANTOWN -

Eyeing the finish line, West Virginia has no choice but to start over.

The Mountaineers wrapped up a 13-18 regular season with another loss Saturday, pushing the streak to six games without feeling the euphoria of a victory. Their hope now, with at least one more game guaranteed in the Big 12 tournament, is to forget all about the numbers that have led to this point.

"My mindset is going to be 0-0," freshman guard Terry Henderson said after WVU fell to Iowa State. "It's 0-0, we've got a clean slate going into the Big 12 tournament. Probably play one of the low seeds first and then get somebody like Kansas the second round and go ahead and just take care of business."

The 0-0 reference is one that clearly has made its rounds in the Mountaineers' locker room as a number of players mentioned it on Saturday. It can refer to both the score of a game and the record of wins and losses, but more than anything, it represents a clean slate.

The slate will be completely wiped clean soon enough, but for now, the memories of the regular season failures can be put in the past. The only chance for head coach Bob Huggins' sixth-straight NCAA tournament appearance at West Virginia is a four-game run in the conference tournament to win the Big 12 championship title.

"I tried to explain to them before the game, it's never too late as long as you have the conference tournament," said Huggins. "As long as you are still standing, you might as well fight."

As bad as the season has been, it is perhaps West Virginia's most redeeming quality that the team rarely appears to be throwing in the towel. The finale against Iowa State was a prime example of the sort of fighting Huggins wants to see from his men so long as they are standing.

Trailing by as many as 27 in the second half, the Mountaineers strung together a few jabs that caught the Cyclones off guard and got the home team within four before ultimately falling short. They showed in those minutes what the potential of this unit could be, but what so often this season was dormant and unseen.  

"We got the tools and the pieces to win, we just didn't put it together yet," said sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds. "I don't know why, I really don't know, but I know we have the tools to be a good team, we just haven't put everything together."

Putting it together can't happen until everything is completely torn down. Huggins will have quite a project ahead of him to fix what is his first team to finish below .500 since he coached at Akron in the 1984-85 season.

Before those changes are made in the offseason, though, the current players want to see something pay off in what remains in Kansas City this week.

"This gave me so much hope, this comeback," senior Deniz Kilicli said Saturday. "I think next week we can make a run. You never know. It's 0-0 now, so if we can put all the B.S. behind and do what we do, I think we will be just fine."

The talk is one thing, the results are a different thing altogether and WVU has given little reason to believe that a run at the Sprint Center is possible, much less likely.

These Mountaineers just want to make it clear that despite all of the setbacks and the poor play, they have not stopped playing.

"Regardless of how the season's gone and looked, none of us are quitters. I know I'm not one," said Henderson. "[We] just really need to keep fighting and being a team and that's what I think these guys are. It'll get better, man. It'll be a whole lot better, but we didn't execute and we really didn't take care of business this year."

They are still standing, still fighting and on Wednesday, they'll get in the ring with Texas Tech.

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