MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- That West Virginia began its Friday practice with players taking hard charges, diving for errant basketballs and running the court -- all in the same drill -- should not be taken as unusual.
After winning their first Big 12 game Wednesday night in overtime at Texas by doing exactly those kinds of things, the Mountaineers have perhaps found the one thing that gives them the best chance for success from here on out -- grittiness and hustle.
How well that will work when WVU returns to the court today, of course, remains to be seen. The Mountaineers (8-6, 1-1 Big 12) host No. 18 Kansas State (12-2, 1-0) in a 1:30 p.m. game at the Coliseum, but the Wildcats are a different breed than Texas. Kansas State thrives on using a deep rotation of players and a knack for playing hard and getting rebounds, so the Wildcats might be able to match the Mountaineers hustle play for hustle play.
Still, it's the way things are going to be for the Mountaineers, who finally got the results they were looking for from all that effort in a 57-53 win at Texas and aren't about to change course now.
"You get out of the game and think, 'I'm done,' and that's a great feeling,'' WVU senior Deniz Kilicli said of the philosophy of not leaving anything on the floor. "And everybody did that [at Texas]. Everybody that was on the floor did that and everybody wanted to win.
"That's all it is, how much you want it. It's a cliche, but that's what it is.''
That was certainly the case at Texas. For example, the Mountaineers used 10 players and, with almost no exceptions, everyone contributed hustle plays. No one had big numbers -- Aaric Murray led in scoring with just 12 points -- and for the longest time the game was as ugly as it could be, but scrappiness was the difference.
That's what Bob Huggins has been preaching all along.
"If you play hard and try to do the right thing,'' said forward Kevin Noreen, "that's all Coach asks of you.''
Noreen, of course, did just that at Texas, grabbing 13 rebounds and scoring just one field goal. But that one made shot was a 3-pointer with just over three minutes to play that ignited a rally by a Mountaineer team that was down 10 points at the time.
"We played with a little more resolve,'' Huggins said. "I think that's the most important thing.''
Will it be enough today against Kansas State? That could be problematic.