WVU Hopes to Avoid Second OSU Hangover - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Hopes to Avoid Second OSU Hangover

WACO, Texas -

West Virginia has been here before.

Well, not in Waco. Not this year, at least. Let me rephrase: West Virginia has been in this situation before.

The Mountaineers (11-9, 3-4) fell in a heartbreaker to Oklahoma State in a game that was right there for the taking and as close as it was to euphoria, they left Saturday's rematch feeling the same way. The first time, WVU proceeded to get blown out by Texas just two days later.

Now, the plan is to avoid a similar outcome in a visit to Baylor (13-6, 1-5).

This is different, though. So says Juwan Staten, at least.

"First of all, we have an extra day to relax a little bit, that's always good," said the junior guard, referencing the Saturday-to-Tuesday stretch. "We've been in this situation before and we know what happened last time when we lost this game and then we had to play Texas. I don't think anybody in the locker room wants to let that happen again, so I think we'll all be guarding against letting that happen and coming out and playing hard."

The problem is that Staten thought the same last time and while WVU may have played hard, it didn't play well.

Thirty-three percent shooting in the first half spelled disaster for the home team as the Longhorns capitalized on over 50 percent of their own attempts. Devin Williams was held to just 1-of-7 shooting and a 14-point halftime deficit ballooned to 21 before WVU closed a bit in garbage time.

Unfortunately, closing at the end of halves in a close game has been an issue for the Mountaineers, a trend that certainly showed itself again in the loss to the Cowboys.

Staten's bunch allowed a 10-0 run and momentum-stealing dunks at the end of the first half and even though they pulled within three in the final minutes, they couldn't get closer and fell by six.

"I think that's definitely something that's been our Achilles heel this year is finishing games," said Staten. "I think it got a little rough when we started getting people fouled out because then we had to call on players that aren't usually put in those situations, so that hurt us a little bit."

Walk-on Tyrone Hughes is a perfect example of such a player. Prior to Saturday, he had logged just 13 minutes in 19 games and just two minutes in conference play, both coming in a 22-point loss to Kansas State.

With Eron Harris and Gary Browne in first half foul trouble, though, Hughes saw four of 20 minutes in the opening period. Fellow walk-on Chase Connor got in the game, too. Those players have their roles and typically they are on display in practice, not in tight conference play.

With or without the top players on the court, Staten knows the play down the stretch must improve to turn any of the seven losses by 10 or fewer points into victories.

"I think it's all part of the growing process," said Staten. "At some point, we've got to get it. It has to start clicking at some point. Maybe with experience, maybe it's going to take tough games like this for it to click, but at some point, it's got to start clicking."

There are 11 games left in the season, making the obvious question whether or not the clicking will start before a second-straight year below .500 has come to pass and a team that wants to avoid the talk of being young and inexperienced will have to wait until it's another year older to see the result it wants.

For now, the focus is on Baylor and nothing else. Staying on the road between games will help ensure that no distractions befall the Mountaineers.

"That's definitely a plus when we don't really have to be on our feet as much," said Staten. "I think that's the biggest thing. We've logged a lot of minutes. We have about eight players playing the majority of the minutes, so we all need a little bit of rest. I think this little road trip and extra day will get us a little time to rest."

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