In fact, West Virginia has done something that few teams have this season, which is play well and show signs of life against two teams ranked No. 1 in the country. Besides the Kansas game (the Jayhawks are No. 1 in the coaches poll this week), the Mountaineers staged a solid rally against Associated Press No. 1 Michigan back in December.
Certainly a team that can compete with two No. 1s can put together something at some point during the season.
"If we'd played like this in all of our games, who knows how many more we might have won,'' center Aaric Murray said after the Kansas game. "We have to do it now. We don't have much time.''
In Texas Tech, West Virginia will face a team that has struggled to do much right this season, not that it's much of a surprise given that the Red Raiders changed coaches in September. When Billy Gillespie resigned under pressure last fall, Chris Walker was elevated to the job on an interim basis. Walker is at least somewhat familiar with West Virginia, having graduated from Villanova in 1992 and serving two brief stints there as an assistant coach since 2001.
He also has a few things to work with. Huggins said he really likes Tech's three inside players - 6-foot-11 junior Dejan Kravic (9.7 points per game), 6-10 Kader Tapsoba and 6-8 sophomore Jordan Tolbert. Tolbert had 18 points and 13 rebounds when last Tech played, a 73-57 loss at Texas. All shoot above 50 percent from the floor.
"They're efficient around the basket,'' Huggins said. "They take good shots and they make a lot that they shoot.''
So, too, is 6-7 junior Jaye Crockett, who doesn't start but comes off the bench and leads the team in scoring (13.1), rebounding (8.0) and minutes played.
Still, Tech has lost five of six since opening Big 12 play with a victory at still-winless TCU and has really just one quality win this season. The Raiders took a 56-51 home win over Iowa State 10 days ago.
Part of the Red Raiders' problem is that they can't shoot from 3-point range. At 26.5 percent, they are one of the few teams in the country worse at making 3s than West Virginia. Tech is 340th out of 347 Division I schools. West Virginia is 322nd.
But today WVU could again go into a game shorthanded. Freshman Terry Henderson is still not 100 percent after tweaking his back again, and Huggins said Friday that he doubted Matt Humphrey would play because of a shoulder that is swelling.
Still, despite having lost five of six, being two games under .500 and everything else that ails this team, Huggins claims that it's not difficult to get his players believing that the season is long from over.
"Everybody wants to believe they've got some hope,'' Huggins said. "I don't think that's a hard sell.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.