MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There have been times this season - plenty of them, in fact - when it appeared as if West Virginia's basketball team might be ready to turn a corner.
Early in the season, those times came late in games. There was the dramatic comeback against Texas in the second game of Big 12 play. There was another late rally in a game a week later at Iowa State that ultimately fell just short.
More often than not, however, the encouraging spurts have come early. The Mountaineers have led teams - good teams - like Kansas and Oklahoma State, both on the road. In fact, there were times when West Virginia seemed on the verge of breaking those games open.
It didn't happen, of course. In fact, in those two and others it was the opponent that quickly broke things open and turned the games into routs. In doing so, they illustrated yet another weakness these Mountaineers have shown.
"I think you've seen that we're prepared when the game starts," coach Bob Huggins said. "We've started pretty well in virtually every game here of late. Our problem comes when they do some different things and make some adjustments. As I've kind of alluded to all year, we don't adjust when other people adjust. That part of it has been difficult for us."
The Mountaineers get another chance to see if they can adjust tonight when they play their final road game of their frustrating first season in the Big 12. West Virginia (13-16, 6-10 Big 12) faces Oklahoma (19-9, 10-6) in a 9 p.m. game at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman. The game will be televised by ESPN2.
Indeed, West Virginia's issue of late has been its failure to make adjustments, something all teams have to do. At Kansas, the Mountaineers led 16-9 early and had all the momentum on their side. But when Kansas turned up its defensive pressure, West Virginia was lost. By the end of the day, the Jayhawks had turned that seven-point deficit into a 14-point halftime lead, a 29-point second-half bulge and a 91-65 win.
Despite that, Huggins said he actually has seen a bit of improvement in that regard.
"I think we have pushed through [adversity] better, in all honesty," Huggins said. "It was hard to see that at Kansas. But let's be honest, when they make shots the way they made shots, they're awful hard to guard.''