MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - With four regular-season games and the Big 12 tournament remaining, West Virginia's basketball team is in largely uncharted territory.
It has been a full decade since the Mountaineers last finished a season with more losses than wins.
It's been nearly three decades since Bob Huggins last suffered that fate, in his first season at Akron in 1984-85.
Only once, in his 14-16 debut at Walsh in 1980-81, has Huggins lost more than the 14 games his current team has lost so far.
Yet despite all of that - or perhaps because of it - Huggins doesn't believe motivation is an issue with the Mountaineers. Whether he's right or not might be the difference between an interesting final few weeks of the season and merely playing out the string.
Next up for West Virginia (13-14, 6-8 Big 12) is tonight's game with Baylor (16-11, 7-7) at the Coliseum. The 8 p.m. contest will be televised by the Big 12 Network (locally on WQCW).
"I don't know if motivation is [an issue],'' Huggins said Tuesday. "But I'd be less than honest if I didn't tell you I think there's been times when, because it's happened so much, that we've kind of put our heads down and made it worse.''
Indeed, as the season crawls along without any consistent spark or any real signs of turning things around, there have been plenty of games in which things have started to go bad for the Mountaineers and they have seemed to all but give up. In fact, of late that might be the only consistent thing West Virginia has done.
It certainly happened Saturday, when Oklahoma State dominated the final 15 minutes of what was until then a four-point game. It happened the game before that, too, when Kansas State built a 20-point lead.
And it happened when WVU and Baylor met just two weeks ago in Waco, Texas. The Mountaineers were within four points at halftime, but they allowed freshman big man Rico Gathers to roam free inside for 22 points and junior shooting guard Brady Heslip to make six 3-pointers and eventually lost by 20, 80-60.