WVU Blindsided by Poor Showing in KC

A silence came over the West Virginia locker room following the Mountaineers' 66-49 loss to Texas in the Big 12 championship.

Each WVU player sat at their locker, heads hanging, knowing they had failed their ultimate goal.

"We were expecting ourselves to come out here and do great things," said junior point guard Juwan Staten. "Then we just come out flat.

"People tend to forget this is still basketball and sometimes the ball goes your way and sometimes it doesn't. But this was demoralizing."

The Mountaineers, after a few days of good practices leading up to the tournament, seemed doomed from the onset against the Longhorns. By the time they scored their first bucket of the game with a little more than 15 minutes left to play, they already found themselves in a 12-0 hole. It was too much to overcome, as the Longhorn lead grew and grew in the first half until the two teams went back to the locker room at 35-14.

This WVU team that had been led by its guard play and known for its ability to knock down perimeter shots was freezing cold and couldn't buy a shot. It didn't make a single shot outside of the paint until Remi Dibo hit a jumper with 19:51 to play in the game to get the second half started. It was that type of night for the Mountaineers.

And while a game like that would be frustrating for any team to handle, it was especially difficult for a Mountaineer squad that was desperate to pick up wins in the tournament, hungry for a chance to get back to show what it can do in the NCAA tournament.

But in that locker room, along with the silence, came the feeling of knowing those hopes had been dashed. The Mountaineers are going to have to wait until next year to try to make those dreams a reality.

The mood was one that was oddly similar to the way it felt on that same day a year ago when the Mountaineers lost at the buzzer to Texas Tech. But at the same time, it was different. In this locker room sat a much more deflated West Virginia team. One that knew it had thrown away its final shot at accomplishing something bigger.

"There were real things at stake," Staten said. "Last year, coming into this, we knew it was pretty much impossible to make the NCAA tournament. We came here this year hoping to make a lot of noise.

"We wanted this to be where we started our run."

All week heading into this matchup, the Mountaineers talked about how confident they were. They believed they could beat anyone in the Big 12 – and they proved it by ending the regular season by outplaying Kansas for the majority of the 40 minutes on the way to a huge win that seemed to sway momentum into the Mountaineers' favor heading into Kansas City.

But then when they took the floor against Texas, every shot the Longhorns made was a devastating body blow. WVU couldn't handle it. And that's the thing that hurts them the most.

"I just don't even know how to describe it. This is really tough to swallow," said sophomore guard Terry Henderson. "All I know is that everybody better take this to heart and remember what it feels like, because I never want this again.

"I'm not used to losing. I can't keep losing like this anymore."

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