Confidence continues to rise as WVU makes run

There was a point during Sunday's win when it felt like everyone in Columbus' Nationwide Arena had been transported to Morgantown.

The crowd, filled mostly with West Virginia fans, was rocking as loud as the Coliseum during an important stretch as WVU was beginning its most important run of the season.

As the Mountaineers were clinging to a one-point lead, things quickly came alive.

Defense turned into offense, as WVU was able to convert four missed shots and two turnovers by Maryland into an 8-0 run that extended its lead to nine and allowed it to pull away and not look back as the Mountaineers continued to exceed expectations and ride their momentum into their first time in the Sweet 16 since 2010.

And with every turnover, they got more excited. With every made shot, they started talking to their opponent more. As everything seemed to be going right, after looking vulnerable at times in the first half, West Virginia was invincible. This didn't look like a team made up of seven newcomers - a group in which 11 of the 12 players who checked into the game had never appeared in an NCAA tournament game before this week. This was a WVU team that was tough. It was confident.

It continued to show the thing that a lot of people have been thinking about this group for quite some time now. For the first time in a few years, this was truly a "Bob Huggins team."

That's the thing you feel about a lot of great teams. They're as good as they are because they take the attitude of their head coach and they thrive by embracing it and absorbing that attitude and making it their own.

The last few seasons that hasn't been the case for a Mountaineer team that wasn't able to find an identity as it searched for the right mix of players to be successful with what its head coach wanted them to be.

They needed to be selfless. They needed to want to make plays on both ends of the floor - and turn their defense into offense. They needed to be willing to do what was asked of them and not look back.

For a few years, that didn't happen. But this has been different. It's one thing to be able to talk about how you are willing to do the things that are asked of you, but as this group has shown this year (and said after the game Sunday) they're willing to walk the walk.

With its toughest test of the year on the horizon, who knows how much longer West Virginia's run in 2015 can last. But one thing's for sure. When the Mountaineers step out to midcourt Thursday night against No. 1 Kentucky, they'll be ready. They showed that Sunday with the toughness they put on display against Maryland.

"I wish I could sit here and tell you we're definitely going to win. I can't do that," Huggins said Sunday night.

"But I can tell you we're not going to be scared."

Mountaineers Daily Top Stories