WASHINGTON - West Virginia passed a big Big East road test when the Mountaineers upset No. 13 Georgetown 65-59 Saturday at the Verizon Center.
It wasn't the first test the Mountaineers had faced during the week, though. There were others besides Saturday's against the Hoyas and Wednesday's at DePaul.
There were also the tests that coach Bob Huggins pulled out of his bag of coaching tricks in recent weeks. Several players mentioned the actual tests that Huggins has begun giving, usually based on what the players have learned - or were supposed to learn - about the upcoming opponent during practice and film study.
It's not exactly a new trick for Huggins, but it is new to this group.
"I've done it before when I've had knuckleheads,'' Huggins said. "You put a test in there and you kind of find out who's paying attention and who's not paying attention. They have gotten significantly better over the last three games.''
It seems a logical time to institute such a test because this West Virginia team seems as prone to ups and downs as any in recent memory. The Mountaineers, quite simply, need something to force them to focus.
But the tests don't always have an immediate payoff. For instance, Huggins said he had to have a real heart-to-heart with his players on Friday because of the way that day's practice went.
"I talked to them about taking ownership after [Friday's] practice, which if it wasn't the worst I've ever been associated with, it's close,'' Huggins said. "We just went in the film room and talked about who's going to take ownership.''
He immediately took himself out of the mix.
"I think I'm going to be back next year. A lot of them won't be,'' Huggins said. "So somebody had better take ownership. And I think we had a lot more of that going on [against Georgetown].''
Georgetown is right where West Virginia went into Saturday's game hoping to avoid being sent - to a 1-3 mark in the Big East.
The Hoyas have lost now to Notre Dame, St. John's and WVU and have beaten only DePaul in the league. Still, Georgetown went into Saturday's game ranked No. 1 in the RPI and with the country's No. 1 schedule.
"The good news is we're only four games into an 18-game Big East schedule,'' Hoyas' coach John Thompson III said. "The bad news is we've lost three of those four games.''
It doesn't get any easier for Georgetown, which plays No. 5 Pitt Wednesday at the Verizon Center. If the Hoyas stumble again they would be 1-4 heading into a stretch of three road games in the next four dates. Thompson certainly doesn't want that.