But back-to-back wins over Baylor and Kansas State - both of which were in the Top 25 until the most recent poll - have not only erased a bit of that stigma, but also put the Mountaineers in the top half of the Big 12 standings at the halfway point.
"We've been saying all year that we were close,'' Staten said. "I think now we're showing how close we were.''
Now, though, the schedule gets even more difficult. The next four games are against Oklahoma (Wednesday night at the Coliseum), Kansas, Iowa State and Texas.
BRIEFLY: Staten's 18-of-21 performance at the free-throw line tied a school record for made free throws. Rod Thorn made 18 in a 1963 game at George Washington. His 21 attempts rank just 11th in school history, but are the most since Thorn attempted 23 in that game at George Washington.
The others who tried more than 21 in a game all played just after World War I. Pierre Hill had seven games with at least 22 free throw attempts in 1922 and 1923. The all-time record is 28 by Bill Morrison in 1920.
Staten's 35 points are the most by a WVU player since Da'Sean Butler had 43 against Villanova at the Coliseum in 2009.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm coming back to school,'' Staten said.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1