Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

MICKEY FURFARI

March 12, 2013

Column: Chance looks good for ending long losing streak

MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia men’s basketball team would seem to have a very good chance of ending its six-game losing streak in the Big 12 Conference Tournament.

The eight-seeded Mountaineers, who finished the regular-season with a 13-18 overall record, will meet ninth-seeded Texas Tech (10-19 overall) in a first-round game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Kansas City, Mo.

West Virginia swept Texas Tech in both regular-season meetings. The scores were 77-61 at Lubbock, Texas, on Feb. 2 and 66-64 on Feb. 16 at the WVU Coliseum.

In conference games, the Mountaineers finished with a 6-12 record and the Red Raiders were 3-15 in the league’s final standings.

Last Saturday’s sixth consecutive loss to Iowa State, 83-74, was the largest in Bob Huggins’ outstanding 31-year coaching career. It was one of WVU’s best performances this year, despite a horrible first half.

Huggins’ players trailed by 27 points early in the second half, but they battled back to within four points with 36 seconds remaining in the contest.

It is believed the 23-point cutback rally was the Gold and Blue’s biggest of the season. This is Huggins’ first losing campaign in his six years at his alma mater.

“It’s never too late,” Huggins said in hoping for a turnaround in post-season play. He had been told that the 1965 WVU men’s team went into its last regular-season finale after an 11-14 record, exploded for a 127-73 win over Virginia Tech at the old Field House, then upset its way through the Southern Conference Championship.

That memorable triumph snapped a six-game losing streak for the 1965 team.

The WVU men’s nine-year record of consecutive post-season tournament appearances obviously is in jeopardy.

No fewer than five Mountaineer scorers finished in double digits against Iowa State, which is a rarity for WVU this year. The Cyclones also had five scorers with 10 or more points each.

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MICKEY FURFARI