On offense, when Gonzaga made it a point to shut down Eron Harris after he'd scored 18 first-half points, WVU had no answer. The Zags gambled that no one else could beat them and no one else did. They left Gary Browne virtually unguarded and he missed three open shots and turned the ball over once in just two minutes with West Virginia up by eight. Williams was ignored at the foul line and out on the baseline and he missed 10 of his 13 shots.
"Basically what they said was that [Harris] wasn't going to beat them, that some of these other guys are going to have to beat them,'' Huggins said. "So they didn't guard some of our guys. Every time I try to do that, [those other guys] make them.''
The defensive errors were few, but critical and all bunched together. After losing most of a 10-point second-half lead, WVU watched Gonzaga make its inevitable run. The Zags turned a 64-56 deficit with eight minutes to play into just a 66-65 hole in about half the remaining time, but who didn't expect that? Then it was crunch time, which is what games are all about.
And then Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga's best player, made three straight 3-point shots. Not contested shots, but fairly wide-open attempts.
"Everybody in the country knows that when Gonzaga needs points, he's going to shoot,'' point guard Juwan Staten said. "Even people who don't watch basketball know that. And we had five guys on the floor who didn't.''
Well, actually they did. They just didn't do anything about it.
Of course, the first step in solving a problem is realizing you have a problem, and so Staten and the Mountaineers apparently have taken at least that first step.
There are plenty more in front of them, of course. Saturday brings the annual game with Marshall at the Civic Center. There's a game with 8-2 Purdue at home a week from Sunday, a potentially tricky trap game with William & Mary back in Charleston a week later and then 18 Big 12 games.
It's time for potential to become, well, whatever it's going to become.
"We're so close,'' Huggins said. "We're so close to being pretty good. But at the same time, we're so far away.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.