Watkins might have also changed WVU's season. Had the Mountaineers lost, they would have fallen to 6-5 with Purdue dead ahead and the Big 12 schedule two games down the road.
"If we'd have lost," Watkins said, "it would have really hurt our season."
Instead, the Mountaineers avoided a three-game losing steak and moved to 7-4.
Give Huggins credit. With 3:50 left in the game, he was pinned with his last timeout when a player called it fighting for possession of a loose ball. He made the timeout count by calling for a Juwan Staten clearout. Staten delivered a bucket that gave the Mountaineers their first lead.
Staten was terrific in the end. He finished with 19 points.
But Watkins was the difference maker. After Huggins lit into him, he scored on a putback to keep West Virginia - desperately trying to take its first lead - in the game.
Later, on a Staten drive, he called for the ball, received it and scored. He then had another putback to keep the game close at 60-58. The plays set up WVU's rally.
"I had to prove myself," Watkins said. "I didn't get in at all against Gonzaga."
"I was really down. I thought I was going to get in ... But Coach Huggins said I wasn't doing my assignments. Coach [Erik] Martin told me if I don't really work hard now I won't play. And he told me this was an opportunity. Next year, Elijah [Macon] and them will be playing. He told me this is my opportunity to show what I can do."
On Saturday, anyway, he took that opportunity.
"It's what they recruited me for," Watkins said. "They told me to rebound, play defense and, when I get the ball, make a good move."
Harris, meanwhile, glowed like his socks when talking about his teammate.
"I've seen that in him from way back," said the guard. "Like in the summer. I've seen a lot better. There's a lot to see."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.