Hot Streak

West Virginia is off to its hottest start ever in Big East play. History indicates, however, that the 3-0 mark could be meaningless overall.

"In today's basketball, strong starts are good, but it really only dictates whether you play front ahead or try and catch up," head coach John Beilein said.

That's true of the season as a whole and of individual games. Consider: In eight of 10 Big East seasons, WVU has been 0-3 or 1-2. They started 2-1 in 1997 and 1999, yet didn't even make the postseason in the latter year, going 4-14 in league play.

"We've had the ball bounce our way a bit," Beilein said. "Some of that is experience, but against Texas and LSU it didn't bounce our way. Sometimes you just need some luck. You're not going undefeated in the Big East. It's too good."

So what makes or maintains a streak? And what's a worthy one? Marshall's football team won 13 straight games in 1999 against horrid competition. That's a streak, for sure, but one no better or more valued than the one across your windshield in a blazing winter sunset.

"We've had some home games in the stretch," Beilein said. "We had some guarantee games. And if we don't end up playing great in the second half against Georgetown, it would have ended. A play here or there and we're not 3-0."

And a play here or there and fans are watching a 13-1 squad ranked in the top five. Should West Virginia, winners of nine consecutive games, beat Marquette on Saturday, it will have won 10 straight for the second year in a row. Some of those wins include road victories at N.C. State, LSU and Villanova and what was essentially a road match-up in Oklahoma.

"I was watching ESPN and I saw them flash us and Pitt up as the only undefeateds," Gansey said. "I was like ‘Whoa.' That's pretty good. It's big, obviously, to get two road wins because it's tough to win on the road in this conference."

It has swept the D.C. duo, beating then-ranked George Washington last year and Georgetown this season at home. Too, should WVU win 10 in a row, it will match its longest winning streak in 16 years (1988-89). It will have won 10 straight in 2005-06, '04-‘05, and 1991-92. It won 22 consecutive games in 1988-89. Among those were victories at Pitt, Maryland and George Washington. Temple snapped the streak in the second-to-last game of the year.

"Coach says that every team that wins on the road in this conference is going to be successful," Frank Young said. "It is big for us and West Virginia because it has such a great basketball history. The first team to start 3-0, that's special."

WVU must also snap another streak to keep the one it wants going: It's 0-1 this season when celebrating past accomplishments.

"Last time we had a presentation, with Jerry West coming, it didn't turn out too well," Patrick Beilein said of the overtime loss to LSU.

This time West Virginia will fight the urge to lull on past accomplishments as the 2005 Elite Eight banner is raised.

"It'll bring back memories like Tyrone Sally's dunk (versus Creighton) and playing against coach (Bob) Knight," Gansey said. "It will be special for a moment, when they raise it, then we'll put it in the past."


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