ESPN's Jeff Goodman wrote about last nights game in Morgantown pic.twitter.com/agdrerAhDu

— BlueGoldSports.com (@Blue_GoldSports) January 13, 2016">

ESPN's Jeff Goodman wrote about last nights game in Morgantown pic.twitter.com/agdrerAhDu

— BlueGoldSports.com (@Blue_GoldSports) January 13, 2016">

ESPN's Jeff Goodman wrote about last nights game in Morgantown pic.twitter.com/agdrerAhDu

— BlueGoldSports.com (@Blue_GoldSports) January 13, 2016">
Friday, June 23, 2017

No.11 WVU making a name for itself on the national stage

Jaysean Paige (5) bringing the ball down the court against Kansas. (Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

Jaysean Paige (5) bringing the ball down the court against Kansas.
(Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, the West Virginia University basketball team has been on a mission to make an identity on the national stage. WVU is often overlooked among the teams like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Michigan State.

Both the national media outlets and basketball fans across the country, view the Mountaineers as a middle of the pack Big 12 opponent.

On Tuesday night, No. 11 WVU knocked off the No.1 Kansas Jayhawks 74-63, which may have finally put them on the map as a top tier basketball program.

“No matter how good or how bad we are playing, you never see anything about West Virginia,” WVU guard Jevon Carter said. “We come in here and beat the best teams, they don’t have no choice but to talk about us.”

The win over Kansas was WVU’s first win against the nation’s No. 1-ranked team since an 87-78 upset against UNLV back on Feb. 27, 1983.

While the Mountaineers sit atop the Big 12 at 4-0, the road to snapping Kansas’ 12th straight conference title is still a long one.

“This league is the hardest league that West Virginia basketball has ever been in and ever will be in I think,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “We played No.1 today and then we got to go play No.2 on Saturday. Texas is beating Iowa State right now.”

Members of the WVU basketball team getting pumped for the Eastern Kentucky game (Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

Members of the WVU basketball team getting pumped for the Eastern Kentucky game
(Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

The Mountaineers are 15-1 and bring a top-five defense to the table. The Mountaineers have a solid five that start game in and game out.

Devin Williams has seven double-doubles this season. The junior averages 14.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Carter (12.6), Daxter Miles Jr. (11.5), Jonathan Holton (9.5) and Esa Ahmad (4.6) round out the starters.

But what’s impressive about WVU is it may have the best 10 in the conference. Maybe even the country.

“There five might be better, but our 10 is better,” WVU guard Jaysean Paige said. “So it’s a team effort. It’s a team win.”

Paige comes off the bench and averages 13.4 points. Tarik Phillip averages 7.7 points.

The duo of Paige and Phillip pose a huge threat to opponents. In fact, they may be considered the best two guards on the team.

When you throw Elijah Macon (6.3), Nathan Adrian (3.1) and Teyvon Myers (2.3) in the mix that is a pretty impressive group who could be starters at some schools.

What makes the Mountaineers’ special is they have no fear.

“It’s the Big 12,” Carter said. “We can’t come in thinking like oh we got this team we got a chance of losing. It’s the Big 12. You got to feel like you’re the Big 12 champs. That’s your goal. So we come out here and play every game like it’s our last.”

Daxter Miles Jr. (4) shooting a free throw as Jevon Carter (2) looks on (Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

Daxter Miles Jr. (4) shooting a free throw as Jevon Carter (2) looks on
(Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

WVU has a way to get in opponents’ heads. The Mountaineers forced the Jayhawks to turn the ball over 22 times.

WVU ranks first in the country in defensive turnover percentage. The Mountaineers are sixth in the nation in defensive three-point percentage.

Kansas head coach Bill Self acknowledges that WVU’s grit and style of play caused his team to play poorly.

“The game, in a nutshell, is that they were so much more aggressive and quicker,” Self said. “They were way more athletic than we were and played above the rim. We didn’t do any of that. They beat us off the bounce whenever they wanted to and exposed our perimeter defense.
“There were a lot of things that we didn’t do well, but if we just talk about how poorly we played it takes away from the credit that West Virginia deserves for really getting after us and causing us to play that way.”
This isn’t a new trend for the Mountaineers. Last season WVU went 25-10 and made it to the Sweet 16.
The Mountaineers had one of the best defenses in the country, earning the nickname “Press Virginia.”
Why couldn’t the Mountaineers win the Big 12? Why couldn’t WVU be mentioned as a potential Final Four caliber team?
Yes, the Mountaineers have 14 conference games left, but they have proven they can play with the best and win.
People around the country are beginning to notice that.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman credited the WVU to having one of the deepest and most talented teams in the country. And Unlike Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and the big dogs, the Mountaineers are not a team stacked with NBA talent.

WVU is a team of talented, hard working, gritty individuals. The Mountaineers believe in their coach and his system and they believe in each other.
Everyone has a role on this WVU team, and each one of them embraces their role. They love each other and try and help one another get better.
As the nation takes notice of this Mountaineer basketball team, WVU could be the new No.1 on Monday if they can fight off the No.2 Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday afternoon.
WVU's Jevon Carter(2) drives down the court as Kansas' Frank Mason III (O) defends (Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

WVU’s Jevon Carter(2) drives down the court as Kansas’ Frank Mason III (O) defends
(Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

The goal is so much bigger than a conference championship. WVU has been shooting for the stars since the summer when they were spotted wearing shirts that read “Houston 4-4-16,” the date and location of this year’s Final Four.

“This ain’t our championship,” Williams told ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the win over Kansas. “We’re trying to get something bigger than this.”
When the dust settles come April, the Mountaineers could have everyone in the country knowing just whom they are and where they are from.

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