MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The plan for this column was to center on DeAndre Kane.
Makes sense, right? The kid played three All-Conference USA seasons for Marshall before transferring to Iowa State and becoming a star. The Cyclones are ranked No. 11 nationally. They were spotting WVU two points.
But a funny thing happened on the way to that angle.
West Virginia blew it - and Iowa State - out of the water. The Mountaineers entertained the 8,177 at the Coliseum in a lavish fashion, routing the visitors 102-77.
At the end, Mountaineer center Kevin Noreen and the rest of the players were wading in the student section, receiving high fives and back slaps. They all sang "Country Roads."
It was a celebration. It was a celebration of the victory, certainly.
But it could have been a celebration of many things.
It could have been a celebration of WVU's surprising shot at an NCAA berth. Entering the game, the Mountaineers were ranked No. 70 to 72 in Rating Percentage Index numbers. Now, bump them up a little higher.
"Heading into the Kansas game [a 83-69 loss] we knew we were on the [NCAA tournament] bubble," said Juwan Staten. "But after a win like this ... It's in the backs of our minds."
Of course it is. Anyway, there's now that possibility. But aside from the win and a refreshed NCAA shot, there could have been a celebration of improvement.
If you ever had doubts about the coaching of Bob Huggins, this dashes them. After last season's meltdown, Huggins famously said he'd "fix it." He's done a heck of a job doing just that.
The team played well against Kansas. It thrashed the No. 11 team on Monday. It won at Baylor and against Kansas State.
Note the progression. The team had trouble getting over the hump in this difficult Big 12. And then it did, winning close contests. It has re-established a home-court advantage. Then, on Monday, it blew out a terrific opponent on that court, playing, actually, some fine defense. Kane was the one melting down. ISU's Melvin Ejim averaged 35.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in two wins last week - and was outscored by Noreen on Monday.
"It was great," said WVU's Gary Browne. "We were doing it for ourselves, but, at the same time, we were doing it for our state."
Yes, Browne contributed with nine points. Remi Dibo shined with 20 points. Ditto Staten with 19. And Eron Harris and Terry Henderson with 16 apiece. Nathan Adrian had what Huggins called "his best game." The stars, on this night, aligned.
"We did," Harris said. "It was all goin'. It was almost unreal. Everybody was doing what was necessary to win the game.
"It started with the Baylor game. We've been clicking since then. We're just getting better and better."