LUBBOCK, Texas — Well, for at least 24 hours West Virginia will stand alone atop the Big 12 standings.
No, that's not an earth-shaking accomplishment just two games into an 18-game league season. But for a team that has never been so much as a single game over .500 in the league, it's something.
The Mountaineers survived a wild overtime game with Texas Tech Monday night, losing an 11-point lead, rallying to send the game into overtime and then never trailing from there. They won 89-86 when Jaye Crockett missed a 3-point heave from the corner as time expired, with Terry Henderson in his face.
It was the second time in as many games and the third in the last five that West Virginia toughened up and won a game they could have lost down the stretch. If nothing else, that's a huge sign of progress from a team that lost every close game it played for much of the first six weeks of the season.
"That's what we were looking for and one of the things we wanted to work on,'' said guard Terry Henderson' whose clutch 3-pointer toward the end of regulation sent the game into overtime. "Winning games down the stretch and winning close games is something we've worked on.''
And after doing just that twice in three days, here's the reward: The Mountaineers moved to 10-5 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 and alone in that top spot. Yes, Iowa State and Kansas State could match that 2-0 mark tonight and Oklahoma a day later, but at least for now West Virginia stands alone.
The win also to a degree avenged the defeat that ended WVU's season last March. Texas Tech (8-7, 0-2) upset the Mountaineers in the play-in game at the Big 12 tournament after WVU had swept the two regular-season meetings.
Getting to 3-0 will be far more difficult, of course. West Virginia's next game is Saturday afternoon at home against preseason Big 12 co-favorite Oklahoma State and All-America Marcus Smart. That's followed by a Monday home game against Texas.
But getting to 2-0 accomplished the singular goal the Mountaineers had when they embarked on their brief two-game Texas road trip. Along with Saturday's 74-69 win at Texas Christian, WVU avoided losing road games to the two teams picked at the bottom of the Big 12 preseason poll.
"It wouldn't have been good to have come away from here with a loss in either of these games,'' said Henderson, who had 16 points and made four of his six 3-point attempts.
After losing an 11-point lead in regulation and then rallying from a three-point deficit just to get the game into overtime, West Virginia took the lead on a Devin Williams free throw and Nathan Adrian's steal and layup and never relinquished it. But it wasn't easy.
The testiest part came after Tech's Toddrick Gotcher drained a 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds to go and cut a five-point lead to 88-86. Then WVU couldn't inbound the ball until the third try, twice seeing it batted out of bounds but getting it back. The third time Gary Browne managed to get the inbounds pass and was fouled, making one of his two free throws for an 89-86 lead.