West Virginia Guards Tarik Phillip and Jaysean Paige Are Linchpins for West Virginia Success in Big 12 Championship

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- West Virginia guards Jaysean Paige and Tarik Phillip have handled the transition from relatively anonymous backups to Mountaineer stalwarts this year, and both appear to be zeroed in on helping WVU to a solid run in the Big 12 Championship

 Tarik Phillip discussed the progression from shooting guard to point guard this season, and detailed several of the important factors in making the move, which is much more complex than it appears. He mentioned getting comfortable with the way his teammates play, learning where they like to receive the ball and where they work best on the floor as some of the items that have had to improve over the course of the year.

Certainly, the junior has done so. While still not the smoothest of operators on the ball, his progression from the end of last year to this point has been very good, and without him the Mountaineers would not be preparing to play in the marquee spot of the Big 12 Championships on Thursday evening.

Phillip is also frank when discussing West Virginia's troubles in transition -- a sore spot that has plauged the Mountaineers all year. He sees it as an issue largely rooted in the curse of trying to make the highlight reel play rather than the more reliable decision, and he knows that he and his teammates have to convert those opportunities if they are to go deep into the postseason.

Jaysean Paige is a bit more reserved, having been exposed to more of the spotlight after earning the Big 12's Sixth Man Award and raking in some of the attendant attention. He noted he is trying to be humble in the face of that and keep his focus during the waning days of his collegiate career on his team and the games to come. that was tested again between WVU's early and late practice session, when ESPN sucked up nearly all of the time alloted for interviews with him, leading to a very brief settions with beat writers.

"It's one and done, so you have to leave it all out there. [Winning a championship] means a lot. It's all about rings and banners."

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