This week saw the highs and lows of the WVU basketball team. The highs were shown best in the game against #1/#2 Kansas. Esa Ahmad had a coming out party, outplaying Kansas’ likely lottery pick Josh Jackson. He had plenty of help, including an inspired game from Elijah Macon. The Mountaineers also made their free throws, hitting 19 of 23. Add everything up and WVU had a dominant 85-69 win over Kansas. WVU became just the fourth team to beat teams ranked #1 or #2 in the AP Top 25 by 15 or more points (the other, of course, was the 22 win over Baylor)[private]
Four days, later, WVU was in control against Texas A&M. They led by 16 at the half, and by 20 early in the second half. But the Mountaineers lost focus again. They allowed the Aggies too much success on the offensive glass (which contributed to 17 second chance points for A&M). They also forgot how to shoot free throws, making just 52% in the game. Poor defense and poor free throw shooting allowed A&M to close to within two before two late free throws saved an 81-77 win for the Mountaineers.
The Kansas win showed that WVU can compete with absolutely anyone in the country. Those same Jayhawks went to Kentucky this past weekend and beat the Wildcats, so Kansas is a very good team. Also, Baylor hasn’t lost since their WVU game. The maddening thing about this team is that when the opponent isn’t highly ranked, they have developed a tendency to lose intensity and focus. We saw it after the Baylor win, especially in the loss to Oklahoma in Morgantown. (The Sooners are 0-3 since beating WVU, by the way). We saw both “Dr Jekyll” WVU and “Mr Hyde” WVU against Texas A&M.
The ability of WVU to stay focused will be tested in this stretch. It started last night at Iowa State, which is always one of the tougher places to play in the Big 12. This weekend is a home game against a dangerous Oklahoma State team. Next Wednesday is a revenge chance at Oklahoma. [/private]
Notes: This Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State will tip off at 5:00, and is on ESPNU…Next Wednesday’s game at Oklahoma is 9:00 and televised on ESPN2…The gymnastics team won a quad meet over Denver, Towson and Temple on Sunday. They scored a season high 196.3 and also scored a significant win over Denver. The Pioneers are a Big 12 opponent (Denver is an affiliate member in the Big 12 conference), and they are ranked #7. That is the first time WVU has knocked off a Top 10 team in nearly five years.