MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - No one needs to point out to Bob Huggins the difficulties his West Virginia basketball team has endured this season at the hands of the better teams in the Big 12 Conference.
In fact, when it was redundantly pointed out to him once again in the context of a question Monday night, the Mountaineer coach had a ready retort.
"We're due then, aren't we?'' Huggins asked.
Well, yes. Overdue, in fact.
But after West Virginia was pretty much manhandled by Kansas State Monday night in Manhattan, Kan. - the final score was a not-awful 71-61, but that was thanks to a meaningless 10-0 run by WVU to end the game - it begged the question of whether the Mountaineers would ever get over that hump.
If they can't on at least a few occasions during the next five games and the Big 12 tournament that follows, it will be the end not only of the season, but of the program's nine-year run of postseason berths.
Already it seems that, barring an unlikely run to finish the regular season and/or a Big 12 tournament championship, a sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance for West Virginia (13-13, 6-7 Big 12) is out the window.
Just don't tell that to Huggins, whose job it is to keep alive those hopes until the bitter end.
"I don't know,'' Huggins said. "I don't know that it's ever over. Who knows? We may make a run and win the Big 12 tournament.''
Or the Mountaineers might not. Most of the smart money is likely on the latter, given that Monday's loss was the seventh in as many games for West Virginia against the six teams ranked above it in the Big 12 standings. Against the three teams below WVU, the Mountaineers are 6-0, but that's of little consequence now considering that all five remaining games are against the top end of the conference.
That begins Saturday with the first of back-to-back home games, a 2 p.m. contest against Oklahoma State at the Coliseum. It's yet another opportunity for WVU to show that it is more than just the best of the worst teams in the league, although Huggins maintains that his team has gone a ways toward proving that a few times already.